Review: Topless Mum

By John Nathan, June 6, 2008

Tricycle Theatre, London NW6

When Annie (Emma Lowndes) offers her tabloid editor Kyle (Giles Fagan) proof that Afghani prisoners have been tortured by British soldiers, the focus of the story is about exposing atrocity. When the photo evidence, supplied by a wounded squadie (Alistair Wilkinson) and his savvy, chavvy wife (Louise Kempton) is revealed as fake, it becomes about a war hero who seeks to expose the harsh realities faced by his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan.

That angle, drummed up by the journalists in order to save their jobs, is not the only unconvincing element of Caroline Hunt’s production. A canny Fleet Street operator like Annie, for instance, would never so obviously display her desperation to obtain the crucial evidence.

If it all rings a bell, the downfall of Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who was duped into publishing similar fake photos, looms large here. And so do the issues that surrounded the case — how chequebook journalists buy the stories they want instead of digging for the elusive truth. Hutchinson’s none-too-revealing lesson is that journalism is no longer a noble profession. It is an observation he himself admits is not a “totally original”. Still, this is a subject that matters. And when Kyle describes his readership as “the ugliest member of the ugliest race in Europe”, you sense that those who write the rubbish and those who read it deserve each other. (Tel 020 7328 1000)

Last updated: 5:10pm, June 5 2008