We had heard great things about the new play at the National based on the recent phone hacking scandal. Written by Richard Bean, it’s a hilarious and ironic take on our press, politics and police.
We made our way along the Southbank on a warm Summer’s night and in through the temporary doors – the National is undergoing a major refurbishment but the theatres are open for business as usual.
We headed up for a cocktail and bowl food reception, where we were impressed by the healthy, mostly vegetarian selection. We then settled into our comfortable seats in the Lyttleton Theatre – the great thing about the National is that wherever you are seated, you will get a reasonably good view of the stage and sufficient leg room. The backdrop to the play is a busy newsroom, with actors coming and going before the curtain raises.
Once the play starts, the characters appear thick and fast. Billie Piper plays ruthless Paige Britain, the news editor of The FreePress tabloid newspaper. One of the most entertaining characters is the hapless Met Commissioner, Sully Kassam, played by Aaron Neil. He gets himself into a series of awkward situations, with comic results. We were lucky to attend a Q&A afterwards with Robert Glenister, Oliver Chris and Aaron Neil who gave us their frank and fascinating insights into the play and staging issues. The play is skilfully directed by Nicholas Hytner who is leaving the National Theatre after ten years to form a new theatre company –with Great Britain, he has certainly gone out with a bang.