“That’s what we do, we destroy lives…but it’s on your behalf, because you like to read about it”
It’s not quite Beyoncé releasing her latest album without prior notice but it’s not far off. Richard Bean’s new play for the National was something of an open secret even if its specifics were unknown but still, announcing it with five days’ notice and no previews is a pretty bold move. What Great Britain has going for it though is a right-up-to-the-minute immediacy as Bean responds with speed to the scandals that have engulfed certain sections of the tabloid media in recent times and a court case that may or may not have just reached a verdict…
We’re in a satirical, pseudo-recognisable world – a ratings-hungry red-top (called The Free Press) is owned by a foreign-born media mogul who wants to buy a television station (an Irishman called Paschal O’Leary if you will) and has a fiercely ambitious news editor at its helm (a blonde woman called Paige Britain, she didn’t say she was “vindicated” so I have no idea who she was meant to be…). Manipulating their way to a position of huge influence with both Police and Parliament under their thumb, it seems nothing could go wrong. That is, until a little thing called phone hacking breaks into the national consciousness. Continue reading “Review: Great Britain, National Theatre”
“Let’s leave politics out of the hospital”
Unperformed since it was written in 1972, it has fallen to Urgent Theatre company to make the case for Caryl Churchill’s The Hospital at the Time of the Revolution in this limited run production at the Finborough Theatre, directed by James Russell. And concerned as it is with the ethics of torture and how it impacts on those that carry it out, as well as its direct results, it still carries a currency with modern audiences despite being set in an Algeria still fighting for independence from its colonial power France.
Churchill used the work of noted psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, namely The Wretched of the Earth, to come up not only with a script that cycles through a number of agents in a psychiatric unit – a civil servant and his distressed family, a sleepless soldier, a snide colleague, a group of patients – but also utilising Fanon himself as a central figure, the doctor to whom they all look to cure their various woes. But it is clear that serious damage has been done, violence perpetrated – whether physical, emotional or cultural – and justified in the name of various causes. Continue reading “Review: The Hospital at the Time of the Revolution, Finborough”