National Theatre to Stage ‘Phone Hacking Play’!

A new play about the press, politics and the police is to be staged by the National Theatre in the wake of the phone-hacking trial.

Great Britain, which has been penned by One Man, Two Guv’nors playwright Richard Bean, will open next week.

Directed by Sir Nicholas Hytner, it stars Billie Piper as Paige Britain, an ambitious tabloid news editor.

It comes after former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was found guilty of conspiracy to hack phones.

Ex-News International chief Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges after the eight-month Old Bailey trial.

The play was slightly delayed while the theatre awaited the trial verdicts, but it will now open at the National’s Lyttleton auditorium on Monday 30 June without any previews.

‘Not a docu-drama’
Sir Nicholas told the BBC that phone hacking “does feature” but only as one element of the play.

“It’s a satire about a network of relationships between the press and the police and the political establishment,” he told the BBC’s Vincent Dowd.

“It is in no sense a docu-drama, it’s a fiction.”

The director denied that any characters were based on Ms Brooks or Coulson.

“There aren’t any specific characters who encapsulate in their entirety any specific individuals – but the culture that gave rise to the criminality that has been uncovered by the trial – that is represented on stage,” Sir Nicholas said.

He suggested that Bean – who most recently wrote the script for the Gemma Arterton musical Made in Dagenham – had been spurred to write by his anger at the “cosy” relationship between the press, politicians and police.

“It’s a comedy – with teeth,” said Sir Nicholas. “It doesn’t set out merely to entertain.”

The play will run until 23 August. Sir Nicholas is due to step down as artistic director of the National Theatre next March.