Get our free email newsletter with just one click


Greg Hicks and Laura Smithers in Clarion, Arcola Theatre. Photo: Simon Annand Greg Hicks and Laura Smithers in Clarion, Arcola Theatre. Photo: Simon Annand

The Clarion of the title is the kind of newspaper which has immigration scare stories splashed across its front pages every day: ‘Fury Over Sharia Law For Toddlers’, that kind of thing. It trades in alarmism in order to keep its circulation figures steady in an age where the internet is rapidly reshaping journalism.

Director Mehmet Ergen has attracted a high profile cast in Clare Higgins and Greg Hicks. Higgins plays former foreign correspondent, Verity, a pioneer in her day reduced to working for the tabloid through booze and debt, and Hicks plays Morris Honeyspoon, the frothing, right wing despot of an editor given to taking an air horn and a centurion’s helmet into editorial meetings, a man who views women either as whores or mother figures.

It’s clear that journalist-turned-playwright Mark Jagasia knows whereof he speaks, having done time at the Daily Express. He can write a well-crafted line – there are some finely calibrated jokes – but there is also something uncomfortable about Ergen’s production. There is real anger underlining Jagasia’s satire, at the insidious culture of fear bred by reckless headlines and ballooning nationalism, but this anger walks hand-in-hand with nostalgia for a Fleet Street lost and the production can’t always square the two. It is also problematic in how it treats its younger characters, as one-note careerists, vapid, entitled.

Higgins gives a rich, rounded performance as Verity, and Hicks a deliciously overblown one as Morris, but the play’s more sinister elements get diluted by its tendency towards caricature.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Newsroom satire with an undercurrent of urgency and anger