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An Audience with Jimmy Savile opens to mixed reviews

Jonathan Maitland's controversial new play opened at the Park Theatre last week

Alistair McGowan on the set of An Audience with Jimmy Savile
© Helen Maybanks

Matt Trueman, WhatsOnStage


"This is taboo: a monster brought back to life"

"Knowing the truth of what went on, we get to see how he evades those charges, how, for decades and decades, Savile gave truth the slip and got away with abuse"

"McGowan lets you see Savile anew, as a set of traits and tics, not an eccentric or a ogre, and it's that enacted impersonation that justifies Maitland turning journalism into drama"

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

"Having seen the show I unhesitatingly say that this dramatisation is entirely justified — indeed, it is necessary"

"Mr McGowan's voice gets so close to the real thing that anyone who was attacked by Savile might indeed, on hearing the impression, be terrified that he had returned from the fires of Hell"

"This is a serious evening, though highly watchable and never po-faced"

Paul Taylor, Independent


"Alistair McGowan is brilliant as the intimidating thug who plays the clown"

"The menacing assertiveness and the name-dropping megalomania in McGowan's portrayal make is easier to understand how Savile got away with it"

'"it emerges as a responsibly shocking, well-researched, and patently honourable piece"

Ben Lawrence, Daily Telegraph


"The problem is that the play is all exposition, a detailed explanation of events (as far as we know them) that is completely lacking in drama"

"Leah Whitaker is commanding, too, as the fictional Lucy, who had been raped by Savile as a child in the Seventies and fights defiantly to make her voice heard"

"Great drama can shed new light on the most talked-about of subjects. This doesn't and, as a result, is merely depressing"

Paul Vale, The Stage


"Maitland gradually exposes the monster behind the clown in the blue, lurex shell suit"

"We all knew the public face of Savile but McGowan gives us a vivid interpretation of his private self"

"Although carefully handled and well structured, this certainly isn't exploitative theatre but aside from establishing facts and a chilling central performance, it offers little in terms of resolution"

Dominic Maxwell, The Times


"The performance makes palpable the phenomenal strength of Savile's personality. By reminding us that his weirdo-of-the-people routine had a genuine allure, it helps us understand better how he got away with it all"

"Why didn't we catch this vicious, tactically brilliant man in his lifetime? Maitland and McGowan show us just how much bravery that would have taken"

An Audience with Jimmy Savile runs at the Park Theatre until 11 July