Theatre: Home Truths Birmingham Rep - Nothing to write home about

Ahead of me in the queue for interval drinks, the novelist and critic David Lodge can be overheard telling a woman how awkward it has been doing interviews for Home Truths, his new play that has just opened on the main stage of the Birmingham Rep. An hour after the show, there he is on Newsnight in a live link-up with Jeremy Paxman from outside the theatre. And yes, he has to agree that no one has forced him to do this interview and that, yes, the situation is a bit paradoxical, given the subject of the play.

Home Truths homes in on the ethics of the newspaper celebrity-interview - that trade-off between the famous figure in search of publicity and the star journalist in search of copy and the chance of a snide, self- aggrandising stitch-up. Very few people, apart from the odd recluse like JD Salinger, could have written such a play without themselves being compromised by the promotion industry. A further irony is that, while a comic drama with this subject can't fail to be thought provoking at some level, this one generates media interest because it's about the media, not because it's good.

Performed, in Anthony Clark's production, in a gratingly reppy manner by a cast straining to make its domestic dimensions encompass this epic space, Home Truths ends at what would be the starting point for a better play. Adrian, middle-aged ex-great white hope of the English novel (Brian Protheroe), his wife (Margot Leicester) and their successful script writing friend from menage a trois college days (Cliff Howells) are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Sunday Sentinel, which is carrying an overly intrusive interview with Adrian about why he gave up fiction - written by the notoriously sharp-tongued, ravishingly beautiful young Fanny Tarrant (Rachel Pickup). But Fanny gets there before her publication, bearing the shock news of Princess Diana's death and (brought on by this) equally startling and very stagey contrition for the nastiness of what she has done to Adrian, who was once her idol.

Just how long she would be able to maintain such born-again virtue, given the pressures of her profession, is a question that would be well worth pursuing dramatically. Likewise, the fact that she has dished the dirt on an ex-novelist who backed out of the limelight because - it emerges Ibsen-fashion - he was morbidly sensitive to criticism has insufficient justification from a public-interest angle to make the contest here tautly even-handed. Focusing on a rather less (or ambiguously) private figure would make more testing theatre, especially in an era when the government is trying to limit journalistic access to its members.

As it is we are taken in to a rather implausible world where tough female interviewers agree to have saunas with male subjects (even though the mere offer would make sensational enough copy) and where wives shop husbands at the very moment where, in real life, they would be clinging to the high moral ground. About the Faustian pact of publicity, Home Truths is not itself much to write home about.

To 7 March. Box office 0121-236 4455

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

    £70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

    £24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all