by Mark Jagasia.
Arcola Theatre (Arcola One) 24 Ashwin Street E8 3DL To 16 May 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 20min.
TICKETS: 020 7503 1646.
Review: William Russell 22 April.
Irresponsible journalism and megalomaniac editors coruscatingly exposed.
Those who work for crusading newspapers live with the sometimes unexpected consequences of crusades. It is not a law reformed, a wrong righted, but an innocent bachelor assaulted by a vigilante gang in the belief he is a paedophile, the odd-ball landlord fingered by the press as a murderer when in reality it was the personable young man next door.
This coruscating black comedy by Mark Jagasia is about a tabloid, The Clarion, on the skids under a foul-mouthed, megalomaniac editor who has been running endless stories about immigrant Moslems, and the consequences of those stories when readers take them at face value.
Greg Hicks seizes the role with relish, delivering the rants Jagasia has written with tremendous aplomb, a performance matched by an equally superb one from Clare Higgins as Verity Stokes, a past her sell-by date foreign correspondent who has covered all the top stories of the last 40 years, and who has her counterparts in real life.
The Clarion’s relentless campaign against Moslem immigrants, its Land of Hope and Glory nationalism, has resulted in something ghastly happening, something the editor and his senior staff knew about and did nothing to prevent. If revealed it could bring the whole edifice toppling.
Verity blows the whistle, handing the story to left-wing broadsheet The Sentinel, which loathes all The Clarion stands for. Jagasia knows the world his characters inhabit, the lickspittle news editor, the managing editor in charge of the cash, the insane proprietor who lives in a tax haven and must be placated at all times, and the reporters doing as they are told and humiliated if they fail.
It begins awkwardly with a scene-setting radio interview about the death of Fleet Street, but once that hurdle is over – and it ends on a first-rate laugh line – events flow relentlessly to a deeply cynical conclusion about the future of a free press.
Hicks and Higgins are simply magnificent, and there is a lovely performance from Laura Smithers as a work-experience employee with the brain of a pea and an eye to the main chance determined to get ahead.
Verity Stokes: Clare Higgins.
Albert Duffy: Jim Bywater.
Joshua Moon: Ryan Wichert.
Morris Honeyspoon: Greg Hicks.
Pritti Singh: Laura Smithers.
Clive Pumfrey: Peter Bourke.
Dickie DuFois: John Atterbury.
Additional company: Diego Benzoni, Vix Dillon, Katerina Elliott, Camilla Harding, Damien Killeen, Ali Wright.
Director: Mehmet Ergen.
Designer: Anthony Lambert.
Lighting. Anthony Lamble.
Sound/Music: Neil McKeown.
Voice/Accent coach: Marj McDaid.
Assistant director: Kay Michael.