Friday, 12 June 2015

Review: An Audience With Jimmy Savile at the Park Theatre

An Audience With Jimmy Savile
Park Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 11th June 2015

Rather than attempting to delve into the brain of Jimmy Savile, Jonathan Maitland's play presents the facts and explains exactly how Savile got away with such horrific crimes. Structured around a 1991 television special celebrating the former Jim'll Fix It and Top of the Pops presenter who - at the time - had recently been knighted "Most Trusted Man In Britain", the concept is interesting and flows well.

From the moment Alistair McGowan steps foot on stage as Jimmy Savile the atmosphere within the auditorium instantly changes. McGowan - who has certainly done his research - portrays Savile both on and off screen. It is uncomfortable to watch him unleashing Savile's vile inner-monster, I found the experience overwhelmingly chilling. McGowan conveys just how deluded Savile was; not only did he trick the British public into thinking he was a kind, charitable gentleman, but he also fooled himself. 

A fictional storyline following a woman Savile raped as a young girl is also woven into the piece. Played by Leah Whitaker (pictured right), we see Lucy attempting to report the abuse to the police years after the incident occurred at Savile's Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Lucy is reminded by the police of Savile's celebrity power and warned of his ability to tear her apart with his first class legal team.

As An Audience With Jimmy Savile approaches its conclusion, Lucy comes face-to-face with Savile which is when Brendan O’Hea's production crosses the line - I thought the scene was hugely insensitive. However, Whitaker's performance is strong; she has some hugely challenging scenes to perform, tackling them with conviction.

When it was announced that An Audience With Jimmy Savile would receive its premiere at the Park, many immediately said "it is too soon". I think it is still too raw to delve too far into the scandal – it is impossible to imagine what victims must still be going through; however, Maitland's play tackles a subject matter which should not be brushed under the carpet. It is important that this case is not forgotten and awareness continues to be raised so victims are not afraid to speak out. 

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

An Audience With Jimmy Savile runs at the Park Theatre until 11th July 2015.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks

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