Tuesday 13 January 1998
Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's rip-roaring, no-holds-barred, fireball farce requires a huge cast. Thanks to a little judicious pruning, director Sam Mendes brings home the bacon with 19 crackerjack actors going hell- for-leather across Mark Thompson's tremendously atmospheric set of a Chicago newsroom in the good old, bad old days of 1928. Alun Armstrong gives a monumental, hilarious performance as the gimlet-eyed editor of The Examiner, who will stop at nothing in pursuit of the scoop of the decade when his chief reporter (Griff Rhys Jones) bags an escaped convict bound for the hangman's noose. But everywhere you look there are unexpected glories. Ian Bartholomew swings between puffed-up swagger and spineless jibbering as the sleazy sheriff up to his neck in political corruption; Lizzy McInerney is a broad but touching broad, and gangling Adam Godley shines as a hygiene- obsessed hack with a penchant for poetry. Enjoy. David Benedict
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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