Review – Public Property, Trafalgar Studios

Wednesday 18 November 2009

A person whose life is spent hovering on the edges of the business of show and whose own name occasionally appears on the sides of buses (and who really should know better) recently, and in all seriousness, asked a Whinger “Do you have a PR?”

How we chortled.

The Whingers may be getting a little grand these days (even grander since being invited to the press night of Public Property and grand enough to turn up a day late to it) but they don’t yet have the resources to employ “people”.

If they were able to engage a publicist it certainly wouldn’t be all-round slimeball Larry De Vries, portrayed in Sam Peter Jackson‘s comedy Public Property by the rather comely Nigel Harman. But well-known newsreader Geoffrey Hammond (Robert Daws) has been caught in a compromising position in a car in a lay-by with a 16 year old boy (Steven Webb**). And unlike Gillian Taylforth he wasn’t just relieving his abdominal pain. So Geoffrey really, really needs Larry’s help if he is to have any chance of saving his career.

Jackson’s play is a wonderfully enjoyable poke at the manipulative machinations of the media and the nature of celebrity (Larry enjoyed a brief stint as a judge on the TV talent show Make Me An It Girl) which may be like shooting fish in a barrel. But when it’s this much fun who cares? The elephant in the rather tiny Trafalgar Studios 2 couldn’t be Max Clifford could it?

PP is refreshingly heavy on plot with a fine line in one liners such as the description of the addictive Larry as needing “more hits than Google to get him through the day”. But even when the lines aren’t quite so smart this wonderful three hander is directed so nimbly by Hanna Berrigan that every bit of comedy is squeezed out of them.

And the whole thing is delivered with such chutzpah and speed that you don’t really have time to linger over the plot holes. Not that that stopped Phil from asking Andrew why Larry who is in full damage limitation mode and is pumping his client for every detail of his indiscretion needs to watch TV to find out what has been printed in the newspapers? Surely even with paparazzi camped on his doorstep he’d have all the newspapers delivered or at least be trawling at them online.

Andrew explained that it was just a play and Phil eventually had to concede that in this case the thing was far too entertaining to dwell on such minor quibbles.*

Harman and Webb are both excellent, but the show really belongs to Dawes who is completely convincing as the likeable, slightly bumbling newsreader and he has a good line in “crumpled”.

We kind of can’t say any more about it but we will say this; the end of Act 1 GUARANTEES you will come back after the interval. Brilliant. Ignore the critics who have given it three stars: for the sheer entertainment value, the panache and the faultless performances you’ve got to give it four stars.


* Phil is also still marvelling at the technical stuff. He wants to know how did they turn down the sound on the TV (which remains on and in view of the audience throughout) and then turn the sound up later to have the right bit playing at the exact moment? Is the play so well timed that it runs at exactly the right length of time to match the TV? Impressive. Andrew just sighs.

** Interestingly, Steven Webb appeared as a child dancer along side Michael Jackson during the 1996 Brit Awards, getting knocked off stage and cracking a rib when Jarvis Cocker came on.

Special Exclusive West End Whingers Ticket Offer

If you want to pay £17.50 instead of the full £25 for any performance until 26 Nov just quote “WEST END WHINGERS” at the Box Office or when you phone on 0844 871 7627. Seriously. You can also get this discount online by going here and entering “WEW” in the promotion code box. The Whingers don’t get anything out of it at all. We’re doing this out of the goodness of our hearts and anyway we’re rubbish at business. Seriously. Try it.

6 Responses to “Review – Public Property, Trafalgar Studios”

  1. Thank you – you’re the best whingers around.

    Producer of PUBLIC PROPERTY

  2. A Clown Says:

    I thought that about the tv sound too: lipreading them, I could tell that they were still discussing the ‘event’ but it was all smoothly done. And a guy told me about Steven Webb’s Jacko/Jarvis moment in the interval and I thought he was making it up!

    I laughed more at this than I have done at a play in quite a while. And whilst, like many an episode of Spooks, there were more holes than in Richard Griffith’s cardigans, it was indeed highly enjoyable.

    I’m glad to see your offer though, £25 does seem a little steep for an off-west-end studio show, no matter how good.

  3. Sir Andrew Lloyds Credit Crunch Says:

    I pay you to WHINGE, not CRAWL. O Whingers! O tempora mores! O pretentia quotora!

  4. Martin Baker Says:

    Saw this last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Great play really nicely done. Thanks for the discount. I agree with the clown that £25 full price is too much for bench seats in a small studio theatre. Let’s hope the WEW helped sell loads of tickets and discounts will continue!

  5. sfchapman Says:

    I saw it on Saturday and thought Steve Webb played a brilliant part – he will be a star one day soon!

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