A/V Room









Truth vs the Tabloids in Thompson’s Damages

Review by Emma Whitelaw

A PICTURE may be worth a thousand words, but just as you cannot believe all that you read, can you believe all that a picture says?

Steve Thompson’s brilliant new play, Damages, in its world premiere at The Bush Theatre, is not only extremely gripping, but is also extremely relevant to today’s audiences – especially in light of the more recent events involving the fake photos of British troops, in Iraq.

With less than an hour before their paper goes to press, a controversial topless photo of a children’s TV presenter is revealed as the FrontPage splash. Just who sent it and why is beyond them, but boy will it make a headline!

That is, until Abigail, played by Amanda Drew, hits the scene. Called in for her legal services, as temporary night-lawyer, she soon takes offence to the fact that this picture of a topless babe is none other than that of Andrea Dear, a very close friend of hers.

Drew is superb as the successful yet heartless lawyer, Abigail. Believing she has been set-up by the paper she once worked for, she decides they can go it alone.

That is, until former lover, Bas, Paul Albertson, enters the room and she decides to stay on and sort out the legal mess.

Desperate to get to the bottom of why her soon-to-be tabloid pin-up friend would allow such a scandal, Abigail, along with the help of veteran journalist, Howard, played by John Bett, uncover much more than expected as they stumble across some deep and very dark secrets.

John Bett is hilarious as the wise old Howard; he is a fantastically funny character. His work may be slow and there may always be a glass of red by his side, but he is far from being a dithery old fool.

The entire cast were simply superb, but I must say it was Phil McKee that stole the show. McKee plays the arrogant journalist, Lister. He has an amazing presence and is extremely talented.

With an enormous chip on his shoulder, Lister sets out to destroy his celebrity nemesis, Andrea Dear. But is he merely playing into her hands?

The award-winning Bush Theatre is a fantastic venue and the set design was amazing! Complete with all the amenities you’d find in an office, desk, chairs, computers, water fountain; you could also see a second office through the door upstage.

And the sound design was just as excellent; before anyone entered the room, you could even hear them come up in the lift. And, as the deadline drew nearer, you could hear the menacing clock ticking away.

Damages is a light-hearted and witty exposé of the seedy underbelly of tabloid journalism.

And, much like the tabloids, Damages shows us that while we cannot believe all that we hear, and all that we see, it sure makes for damn good entertainment!

Damages written by Steve Thompson & directed by Roxana Silbert. Designer Liz Cook, Lighting Design by Chahine Yavroyan, Sound Design by Matt McKenzie. Starring Phil McKee, John Bett, Paul Albertson & Amanda Drew. From June 2 to July 3, 2004 at The Bush Theatre, Shepherds Bush Green London W12. Box Office: 020 7610 4224.

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