“I’m still big. It’s the papers that got small”, slurs Julie Burchill.
She is draped in a ballgown and the Israeli flag, slumped on a leopard-skin sofa and has spent the last 20 minutes snorting cocaine off Morrissey’s autobiography (“I like his music but he is SO boring.”)
Tim Fountain’s new play about the infamous newspaper columnist - played by Lizzie Roper with an insistent West Country squeak - is not subtle.
Twelve years ago, Fountain wrote "Julie Burchill is Away", a wicked tribute to the Queen of Spleen. This follow-up finds her in "managed decline", having just been sacked from The Observer for a column about transsexuals.
The play opens with Burchill returning from Tenerife - duty free vodka on hand - to find her accountant worrying down the phone and a lucrative offer from Celebrity Big Brother in her inbox. The tension, such that it is, is whether she will agree to go on the show.
The play is not approved by Burchill and it is clear why: she comes across as a sad, addicted has-been. What is not clear is who Fountain imagines might be interested, apart from curious journalists in this indulgent, fitfully compelling, hour.
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