Great Britain (play)

Great Britain

Theatre Royal Haymarket production poster
Written by Richard Bean
Date premiered 30 June 2014 (2014-06-30)
Place premiered Lyttelton Theatre, National Theatre, London
Original language English

Great Britain is a satirical play written by Richard Bean. It received its world premiere at the Royal National Theatre, London on 30 June 2014, before transferring to the West End's Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Production history

Great Britain is written by English playwright Richard Bean.[1] In May 2013,[2] it was revealed Bean was working on a new play based on the phone hacking scandal, having been commissioned by National Theatre artistic director Sir Nicholas Hytner, whilst still working on his play One Man, Two Guvnors.[3] Speaking about the play he revealed that it would be set in a tabloid newsroom and is a play about the state-of-the-nation, press, politics and police in bed with each other.[2] In March 2014, it was revealed that an undisclosed Bean play would premiere as part of the National Theatre 2014-15 season,[4] Hytner's last as the National's artistic director.[5] In May 2014, it was revealed that Billie Piper and Oliver Chris were taking part in workshops for the play[6] and that the cast and crew had signed non-disclosure agreements[7] for the as yet untitled production.[6]

On 25 June 2014, the play was officially announced as Great Britain and that it would premiere without a preview period on 30 June, at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre.[8] It is a satire about the press, police and politics, and stars Billie Piper as a newspaper editor, Paige Britain. The play is directed by Nicholas Hytner,[9] with design by Tim Hatley,[10] lighting design by Neil Austin,[11] video design by Leo Warner,[12] music by Grant Olding,[13] sound design by Paul Arditti[13] and Clive Coleman acting as a story consultant.[14] The launch was slightly delayed by concerns over legal issues which might have been caused by running at the same time as R v Coulson, Brooks and others.[15]

Following its premiere production the play transferred to the West End's Theatre Royal Haymarket on 9 September 2014,[16] with its official opening night coming on 26 September,[17] booking until 10 January 2015.[18] The transfer was announced only one day after opening at the national.[19] Lucy Punch took over the role of Paige Britain and Ben Mansfield replaced Oliver Chris as Asst. Commissioner Donald Doyle Davidson for the West End Run,[17] due to prior commitments.[20] The play was reworked for its West End debut, with around twenty minutes cut from the running time.[21]

Principal roles and original cast

Original National Theatre cast of Great Britain
Character National Theatre performer[14] West End performer
Paige Britain Billie Piper Lucy Punch
Wilson Tikkel Robert Glenister
Asst. Commissioner Donald Doyle Davidson Oliver Chris Ben Mansfield
Hunter Dixon Ross Boatman
Garth Ellerington William Chubb
Paschal O'Leary Dermot Crowley
Marcus Hussein Scott Karim
Maddy Fitzpatrick Barbara Kirby
Boris Tudor Nicholas Lumley
Diane Bendall Maggie McCarthy
Billy Cain Iain Mitchell
Commissioner Sully Kassam Aaron Neil
Howard Woolf Nick Sampson
Wendy Klinkard Kiruna Stamell
Mac Macmanaman Andrew Woodall
Tina Ursal / Babs Sarah Annis
Larry Arthur / Bodger Robert Calvert
Virginia White / Jackie Spence / DI Da Costa Jo Dockery
Jimmy the Bins / St John / Felix Ian Hallard
Wallace Gee / Kieron Mills James Harkness
Thierry Picq / Sergeant Ojo Miles Mitchell
Gemma Charles / Stella Stone Kellie Shirley
Clarissa Kingston-Mills / Stella's Mum Harriet Thorpe
Jonathan Whey / Stevie Rupert Vansittart
DCI Cram/ Jasper Donald Joseph Wilkins


  1. "Playwright Richard Bean does not shy away from controversy. The author of phone hacking drama Great Britain tells Dominic Cavendish about his latest play". London: The Telegraph. 26 August 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  2. 1 2 "Guvnors' pleasure barely contained". Melbourne: The Age. 4 May 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  3. "Richard Bean, who wrote One Man, Two Guvnors, is 'nearly ready' to deliver drama set in tabloid newsroom". The Guardian. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  4. "Hytner announces National Theatre plans for 2014/15". London Theatre. 20 March 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  5. Healy, Patrick (20 March 2014). "Hytner's Final Season at National Theater to Include New Stoppard Play". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  6. 1 2 "Billie Piper and Oliver Chris workshopping Richard Bean satire about Leveson Inquiry?". Whats On Stage. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  7. "How topical! Phone hacking satire starring Billie Piper as a tabloid news editor to open at the National Theatre". London: Daily Mail. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  8. "National Theatre to stage 'phone hacking play'". BBC News. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  9. Taylor, Paul (1 July 2014). "Billie Piper 'excellent' as tabloid editor". London: The Independent. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  10. "Richard Bean's play about tabloid phone-hacking has been overtaken by real-life events, says Tim Walker". London: The Telegraph. 6 July 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  11. "Billie Piper stars in phone hacking play at National Theatre". Whats On Stage. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  12. "London's National to Premiere Richard Bean's Great Britain". Playbill. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  13. 1 2 "Great Britain to transfer to the Haymarket". Theatre Royal Haymarket. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  14. 1 2 "Great Britain at the National Theatre Cast & Creative". Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  15. Brown, Mark (25 June 2014). "National Theatre stages surprise phone hacking play". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  16. "Lucy Punch Stars in GREAT BRITAIN, Beginning Tonight at the Theatre Royal Haymarket". Broadway World. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  17. 1 2 ""Into the Woods" Star Lucy Punch Tapped to Lead West End Transfer of Great Britain". Playbill. 11 August 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  18. "Phone hacking play Great Britain gets West End transfer". BBC News. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  19. "Fast Transfer for Richard Bean's Great Britain to West End Following National Theatre Run". Playbill. 1 July 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  20. "Can Great Britain still make a splash without headline star Billie Piper?". The Guardian. 4 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  21. "Back to the hacks: playwright Richard Bean on the reworked West End production of his play Great Britain". London Evening Standard. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
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