By Jenni Frazer
May 5, 2009
Hampstead Theatre is celebrating its 50th birthday this year and has chosen to mark it with the revival of its 1975 Michael Frayn hit, Alphabetical Order.
It's set in a newspaper library and though the new production has some starry names - Imogen Stubbs, Gawn Grainger, even ex-Coronation Street's Chloe Newsome - it has to be admitted that the play has not worn well.
However, I think I can understand the rave reviews from the London critics. It's simply that Frayn has created some hilariously recognisable stereotypes who have probably haunted every newspaper office there ever was: the person who manages to impale themselves on their desk spike; the slightly decrepit messenger who could bore for Britain; the features editor who persists in addressing everyone as if they were mildly backward schoolchildren; and, bang up to date, a leader-writer who could be Boris Johnson in another life.
And yes, variants of each and all have at some time decorated this office. So it was the hilarity of familiarity. And oh Lord, the mess in that newspaper library. Had Michael Frayn ever been to Furnival Street, I wonder?