With rumours proliferating way back to the 60’s, how was DJ, television personality and charity fund raiser Jimmy Savile allowed to continue his repellent behaviour for decades? Maggie Thatcher gave his work the seal of approval, he counted Prince Charles among his friends, and he was given unprecedented rights of access in hospitals and institutions housing vulnerable youngsters.
He’s no longer here to answer the hundreds of accusations of abuse which finally surfaced after his death in 2011, but Jonathan Maitland’s uncomfortable new play – based on real events, police interview transcripts and witness statements – shows us an arrogant, Machiavellian personality maintaining that his good works exonerated him from the unforgiveable crimes he committed.In lurid turquoise shell suit and dark glasses, Alistair McGowan is truly repugnant as the cigar smoking Savile – a litigious control freak whose celebrity status somehow ensured that the complaints of his victims (like Leah Whitaker’s fictional composite Lucy) fell on deaf, unbelieving ears.
It’s not a great play, but it’s well researched and – though doubtless far too little and far, far too late for those damaged by Savile’s paedophilic attentions – Brendan O’Hea’s production will, perhaps, help ensure that, in future, the powers that be will be more reluctant to close ranks or be blinded by fame.
Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP
Tube: Finsbury Park
Until 11th July £20-£25