Senior assistant designer
Gareth Damian Martin
Programmer and associate designer
Assistant programmer and automation tracking
Leo Warner & Nick Hytner
Haymarket Theatre, Sept 2014
After its sell-out run at the National Theatre, Richard Bean’s satirical take on the phone hacking scandal moves to the West End. Packed with filthy jokes and sordid characters, it rips into tabloid journalism and corruption of the police force and political establishment. Following on from Billie Piper’s star lead, Lucy Punch steps up as the cunning and ruthless news editor of the Free Press, Paige Britain.
‘The very nature of the piece is media and true to its form, Great Britain’s use of moving video screens with footage clips, pictures and flashing headlines seamlessly moves the action along. These slick changes leave you feeling as if you are watching an episode of Have I got News for you whilst reading Heat magazine and Hello all rolled into one.’
'Giant video screens relay news footage and images of paper front pages. These images serve as great scene transitions but also add to the distinct fluidity and cartoonish political incorrectness that is so relatable, often garnering as many laughs as the play’s dialogue.'
'The production values of this show are what you would expect from a National Theatre show transferring to the West End: impeccable. The space is decked out like an open plan office (with exactly the right amount of tidy chaos to be believable), with three large transparent moveable flats that function as dividers to create meeting rooms. The flats also function as screens for projections, which vary from concrete walls to news reports and comical YouTube videos.'
‘The setting was highly believable and the use of moveable video walls was innovative and brilliantly executed – showing headlines from other papers, including the Daily Wail which had everyone laughing, and the truly cringe-inducing press conferences of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.’
‘Following a successful stint at the National Theatre, Richard Bean’s Great Britain has bulldozed its way into the West End with its irresistible blend of scorching satire and slick, sliding production in tact. Aided by a malleable set of screens which show rolling news channels and tacky front pages, the joy of Bean’s production is in the dialogue. It entertains by examining a meaty topic, but does so with all the glamour and panache you’d expect of the West End.’
'Written with real verve...a production by Nicholas Hytner that is as well marshalled as a military campaign.'
'Nicholas Hytner’s production is pacy and busy. Giant video screens dominate Tim Hatley’s design, relaying snippets from other papers — no prizes for recognising the Daily Wail or the Guardener — and as the images flash past we experience the fluidity of the news agenda as well as its limits.
Bean’s satire is deliberately grotesque. The cartoonish elements are richly enjoyable, laced with political incorrectness, yet they’re interleaved with some altogether more subtle jokes. Even if the show feels a little too broad and could do with a trim, it’s barbed, dense and very funny.'
'Directed with terrific niftiness by Nicholas Hytner, the play weaves between politically incorrect humour and something darker and more troubling as it raised awkward questions about the divisions between honourable and disgusting journalistic muck-raking. It suggests that, while a great many of our institutions may be found wanting at the moment, the NT is on exhilarating and exemplary form.'
'Some fantastic acting work across the board and slick direction from Nicholas Hytner'.
'This is a big play, and Nicholas Hytner gives it one of his big productions, with huge video screens acting as stage “wipes” while showing mocked-up headlines and TV news clips, even supposed YouTube mash-ups of the hapless police commissioner (a rare character with no obvious biographical basis) and his repertoire of foot-in-mouthisms.'
'Elegantly staged using mobile glass walls that double as video screens, plus a smart mix of pre-filmed material....But the real scene-stealer is Aaron Neil's gay London police chief Sully Kassam, whose majestically stupid press briefings provide some of the play's most hilarious lines, especially when recycled into Youtube-style parody video clips screened on the glass walls between scenes. This is an inspired use of contemporary social media conventions to amplify comic impact.'
'There is plenty to enjoy in Nicholas Hytner’s vigorous and charming production.'