Enquirer

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Enquirer

The National Theatre of Scotland's show about newspaper journalism is a post-mortem on a corpse that's not yet fully dead. Directors Vicky Featherstone and John Tiffany have got together with Andrew O'Hagan of the London Review of Books to cut and paste verbatim interviews with leading hacks suffering professional ennui in the face of declining sales, the rising tide of blogging and the dispiriting Leveson Enquiry. The genius of the show is not just turning round the dictaphone, but also setting it in mocked-up editorial offices near Fleet Street.

What is brilliantly suggested is the often disgracefully fine banter in a world where working for The Sun is described as like 'nicking a megaphone off a sociopath'.

But it's also a world where the high-minded purpose of exposing worldwide famine and corruption rubs arses with celebrity cellulite. It's a business that can bring out the worst in its practitioners and the show reaches the pious conclusion that it was the moral squalor of proprietors that finally did it for the industry.

What makes 'Enquirer' such very good fun is the thrill of a chase which has the audience up and down stairs, in and out of tiny offices, and perched on bundles of papers. The best of the exchanges is between actors playing Queen of Sarcasm Deborah Orr and Old School King of Evasion, Times exec Roger Alton.

But there's a nice procession of journo stereotypes getting their column inches' worth, from Maureen Beattie's hardbitten war correspondent to Billy Riddoch's marvellously complacent Glaswegian fat cat. It's a eulogy most newspaper hacks would be happy to hear as they lie in state ahead of their widely forecasted burial.

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