Great Britain – Theatre Royal Haymarket until 10th Jan 2015

Great BritainPhone hacking, police corruption, murky political dealings, all poked fun at with a great cast and a tight script. What’s not to like?

Great Britain has had a really successful run so far – beginning life a the National with Billie Piper in the lead as a ruthless and ambitious journalist at the ‘Free Press’ red top, and now moving to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, with Lucy Punch replacing Piper. Tickets are widely available on voucher code sites, and there were a lot of empty seats when we visited with two months left of the run, so it looks like something has been lost along the journey. However, the brilliant Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has had trouble shifting seats of late, and November is a notoriously dead period between holidays and Christmas, so lapses now aren’t always indicative of quality.

This is, without doubt, a funny and clever play. It mercilessly hacks away at the red-tops (see what I did there?), the police and politicians, leaving no incompetent stone unturned and giving a hilarious/terrifying view on who really holds the strings of power in today’s Britain. The cast is fantastic – Lucy Punch is magnetic, I was delighted to spot Four Weddings and a Funeral alumnus Rupert Vansittart, and my personal highilght wa the nincompoop Police Commissioner played by Aaron Neil – and the humour is sharp. You will definitely come away a few laughs richer.

However, what this show lacked for me was any real heart/depth. It plugs away at exposing real, important issues and attempts to have serious moments in individual monologues, but the dialogue is so relentlessly quick fire and witty that I came away feeling strangely unsatisfied. It felt like seeing Jimmy Carr as opposed to a proper comedian who can tell real stories – all one liners but no real journey. It still is a great night out, however, and tickets are a steal, so worth seeing if you’re in town.

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