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
Steve Thompsons brilliant new play, Damages, in
its world premiere at The Bush Theatre, is not only extremely
gripping, but is also extremely relevant to todays 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 childrens 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
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
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
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
The award-winning Bush Theatre is a fantastic venue and the set
design was amazing! Complete with all the amenities youd
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
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.