Lies Have Been Told (4 stars)

  • 21 August 2006

This article is from 2006.

Among the pantheon of public villains of the last quarter century, the Archers, Mandelsons, Murdochs and Blairs, the name of Robert Maxwell must rank high in any reasonable person’s consideration. So it’s an exceptional show that can render the late Mirror Group publisher and pension scheme embezzler into a believably human, if not exactly sympathetic figure.

It does so through the format of an evening in his plush office. As he gulps crudely away at champagne and other beverages, and greedily consumes caviar, he takes us through his life. From his earliest days as an impoverished Czech Jew, through his wartime escapades, some of which are to be taken with a pinch of salt, and on to his days as a publishing tycoon, there is a consistent theme of exclusion and resultant disaffection in his life. Maxwell, the man himself explains, may have been a bully, a crook and a monster, yet there is a constant link to causality in this process. For Maxwell was the constant victim of a British establishment steeped in xenophobia, anti Semitism and class bigotry, and his bitterness and hunger drove him on. His belief, stated early and often, that people believe what they want to believe, and hear what they want to hear is born out by his experience as well as his philosophy as a hands-on publisher.

Alan Dosser’s tight, pacy, intimate production is a sight to behold, and a truly astonishing performance from Philip York will remain a memory for many years to come. Rod Beacham’s writing is subtle and garishly extravagant by turns. This is a tight piece of tragi comedy with relevance beyond the man himself. (Steve Cramer)

Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, 6.20pm, £9-£10 (£7.50-£8.50).

Post a comment