GREAT BRITAIN To 15 January.


by Richard Bean.

Lyttelton Theatre Upper Ground South Bank SE1 9PX In rep to 23 August 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & 16, 24, 30 July, 6, 13, 20 August.
Audio-Described1 Aug, 2 Aug 2.15pm (+ Touch Tour 12.45pm).
Captioned Tue 29 July 7.30pm.
TICKETS 020 7452 3000.

then Theatre Royal Haymarket 18 Suffolk Street S1Y 4HT 10 September-10 January 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed, Sat & 23, 29 Dec, 2 Jan 2.30pm.
no performance 25 Dec, 1 Jan.
no evening performance 24, 31 Dec.
TICKETS: 0845 481 1870.

Runs: 2hr 45min One interval.
Review: Carole Woddis 29 July.

Blissful and tasteless in equal measure.
Big, boisterous and irreverent, Richard Bean’s Great Britain has blown like a whirlwind into the Lyttelton on the tail of the ’phone-hacking trial. Not since Howard Brenton & David Hare’s Pravda has the British Press found itself lampooned quite so gleefully.

Only recently announced in the National’s schedule, its transfer to the West End is already assured. What merits such speedy dispatch? Partly its topicality. But partly, Bean’s track-record as gag-master general on the back of his success with his Goldoni makeover, One Man, Two Guvnors.

His early plays, like Under the Whaleback, Toast and Harvest were serious explorations of people at work. As success has accrued, his writing has become saucier, more scurrilous.

Great Britain shows as little respect for the great British reader as it does for the others caught up in the venal establishment – the politicians and numb-headed police. Bean also takes aim at Political Correctness in all its forms, but especially at racial, sexual and even disability correctness. One of his wickedest turns comes in the form of gay, Asian Police Commissioner, Sully Kassam, mercilessly pilloried in Monty Pythonesque style.

But it is the attitudes and cavorting of journos at the barely disguised red-top, ‘The Free Press’, with its swaggering Kelvin McKenzie-style editor – Robert Glenister’s Wilson Tikkel – and ambitious News Editor deputy, Billie Piper’s Paige Britain, that take the full force of Bean’s scorn. Their author endows them with expletive-filled amorality, every new story more headline-grabbing than the previous one. “We’re here to save democracy,” gloat Tikkel and Britain, seeing their scurrying down every dark alley – and inevitably, into every available mobile device – as little short of a public service. And of course, a fail-safe to sell more papers.

Directed at a furious pace by Nick Hytner, Piper is gorgeously outrageous as the spiky Britain (Piers Morgan-like disappearing off to the US when the going gets rough) manipulating bungs, policemen and victims alike and there’s a treasurable cameo from Dermot Crowley, as a surely Murdoch inspired Irish publisher, O’Leary, naughtily replacing Tikkel with the aptly-named, though red-haired, Virginia White, all innocence and light.

Paschal O’Leary: Dermot Crowley.
Wilson Tikkel: Robert Glenister.
Garth Ellerington: William Chubb.
Paige Britain: Billie Piper.
Virginia White/Jackie Spence/DI Da Costa: Jo Dockery.
Hunter Dixon: Ross Boatman.
Howard Woolf: Nick Sampson.
Billy Cain: Iain Mitchell.
Larry Arthur/Bodger: Robert Calvert.
Wallace Gee/Kieron Mills: James Harkness.
Tina Ursal: Sarah Annis.
Maddy Fitzpatrick: Barbara Kirby.
Gemma Charles/Stella Stone: Kellie Shirley.
Thierry Picq/Sergeant Ojo: Miles Mitchell.
Jimmy the Bins/St John/Felix: Ian Hallard.
Marcus Hussein: Scott Karim.
Commissioner Sully Kassam: Aaron Neil.
Asst. Commissioner Donald Doyle Davidson: Oliver Chris.
Mac Macmanaman: Andrew Woodall.
DCI Cram/Jasper Donald/Jonas: Joseph Wilkins.
Jonathan Whey/Stevie: Rupert Vansittart.
Diane Bendall, Labour MP: Maggie McCarthy.
Wendy Klinkard, Solicitor: Kiruna Stamell.
Boris Tudor/Stella’s Dad: Nicholas Lumley.
Clarissa Kingston-Mills/Stella’s Mum: Harriet Thorpe.
Babs, Stella’s friend: Sarah Annis.
TV Anchors: Paapa Essiedu, Debra Gillett, Niky Wardley.
TV Reporters: Rosie Armstrong, Cassie Bradley, Matthew Lloyd Davies, Eleanor Matsuura, Daniel Millar, Samuel Taylor, Ross Waiton.
Select Committee Chairman: Jonathan Dryden Taylor.
Archbishop: Tony Boncza.

Director: Nicholas Hytner.
Designer: Tim Hatley.
Lighting: Neil Austin.
Sound: Paul Arditti.
Music: Grant Olding.
Video: 59 Productions.
Company Voice work: Kate Godfrey.
Digital art: Daniel Radley Bennett

Other parts played by: Jonathan Bailey, Lucy Bailey, Charlotte Bevan, Lewis Boulcher, Colin Burnicle, Abby Cassidy, Gunnar Cauthery, Richard Charlton, Victor Correia, Daniel Debono, Samantha Evans, Luke Gray, Colin Haigh, Lenny Henry, Claire Hughes, Robert Killalea, Nigel Lindsay, Raphael Lowe, Tom Lyons, Fran Miller, Anna Nightingale, Natalie Pryce, Alan Richardson, James Roxburgh, Russell Saunders, Matthew Scott, Olivia Vinall, Brian Walters, Daisy Watford.

The world premiere of Great Britain was at the Lyttelton Theatre London 30 June.

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