Davenport Will Lose Friends & Alienate People at SohoDate: 4 March 2003
Tim Fountain is following last year's one-woman play about Julie Burchill with a one-man play about Burchill's nemesis (one of them, in any case), fellow hack Toby Young. The new piece, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, is a dramatisation of Young's 2002 memoir of the same name and will premiere at London's Soho Theatre from 29 April to 17 May 2003 with Jack Davenport starring as Young.
Burchill and Young founded The Modern Review together but fell out when Burchill started a lesbian affair with one of the magazine's contributors, Charlotte Raven. While the women plotted to change the political slant of the magazine, Young countered by folding it behind their backs.
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People picks up Young's tale some time later when, in 1995, he was offered the dream job of editing Vanity Fair. Relocating from London to New York, Young hoped to follow in the footsteps of British journalists like Alistair Cooke, Tina Brown and Anna Wintour by taking Manhattan by storm. Instead, within the space of two years, he was fired, banned from the city's most fashionable bar and dateless.
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is Young's account of the five years he spent working his way down the New York food chain, from glossy magazine editor to crash-test dummy for interactive sex toys. Not a complete failure, the experience did provide material for his book which, published in the UK in 2002, became a bestseller. No thanks to Burchill who, when approached to comment, said: "I'll rot in hell before I give that little bastard a quote for his book".
Fountain seems to have found his forte in solo shows about famous British journalists. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, which is directed by Owen Lewis, builds on his success with Resident Alien about Quentin Crisp and Julie Burchill Is Away, which also premiered at Soho and earned star Jackie Clune a Whatsonstage.com Award nomination for Best Solo Performance.
Jack Davenport is best known to TV audiences as Miles from the BBC's cult series This Life as well as the ongoing comedy Coupling. His film credits include The Talented Mr Ripley, Gypsy Woman and The Bunker. Davenport's recent stage credits include The Servant and, last year in the West End, Lady Windermere's Fan with Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson.
- by Terri Paddock