On Saturday I juggled child care and slotted flap A into flap C and glued, and held whilst cutting down the dotted line, all so that I could run away for the day with Andrea to London.
It is quite a while since we’ve done a whole day of running away. Usually I manage an evening, but a day is a bit of a luxury. Specially when you’re spending it in London.
We were, as is our wont, heading to the National Theatre. We stuck to our usual routine when we are seeing a weekend matinee. We parked in the National’s underground car park and headed to Wagamamas for super fast lunch. You can always rely on them to feed you in plenty of time so that you’re not panicking about waiting for curtain up. We even managed to sneak in a quick trip to Foyles on our wander back to the theatre. A hearty lunch before the play means that after the play we just need cake and coffee to give us some much needed oomph for the drive back, and we’re all good.
Andrea, who is way more competent than me, had managed to bag tickets for the new play by Richard Bean who wrote One Man Two Guv’nors. We were seeing Great Britain, which debuted a few weeks ago to much fanfare. If you are keen to see it, by the way, there is still some availability and it is transferring to the West End shortly. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t NT Live it at some point too, and if they don’t, it will be a crying shame.
It is basically a much nearer the knuckle Drop the Dead Donkey (British satirical show set in a newsroom for those of you who are a) not old, b) not English), based very closely on the Leveson enquiry findings and the whole media circus around Murdoch, MP’s expenses and phone hacking. It was being written as the Rebekah Brooks case was going through the courts, and rehearsed in secret until the verdict came out.
Billie Piper takes the lead role, and is absolutely brilliant. She is, for a girl who was once one of the most irritating teen songsters in Britain, shaping up to be an exceptionally gifted and versatile actress. This is the second thing I’ve seen her in at the National, both completely different kinds of roles, and both managed with enormous éclat by her.
The play was very, very funny indeed. It leaves no stone unturned in its quest to lampoon the media, the government, the police and the public taste for salacious gossip. Whilst bordering on farce at times, it is saved from being ludicrous by a very, very dark edge which keeps everything uncomfortably current and forces you to ask and answer some questions you’d probably rather not, about your own collusion in the state of the nation.
The dialogue was sharp. The acting was, to a man, superb. The sets were clever and innovative and made full use of what the National has to offer in terms of its resources and creativity. In short, it was everything The White Devil wasn’t.
The icing on the cake was, as we were coming out of the theatre, an elderly lady turned to the man she was with and said: ‘I thought Philip Glenister was superb, didn’t you?’ (Philip Glenister is Gene Hunt in Life on Mars etc). Philip Glenister was not actually in the play, so her companion seemed suitably confused and said: ‘Err. I’m not sure he was in it.’ She wouldn’t have it: ‘Of course he was. He was very good.’ There was a silence as they both thought about this for a moment. Then she said: ‘Of course, he has let himself go rather since I last saw him. His neck has thickened and he’s lost a lot of hair.’