An Audience with Jimmy Savile at the Park
Created by Jonathan Maitland, the first of a month’s run of An Audience with Jimmy Savile at North London’s Park Theatre focuses on 1991 – the year in which Savile received a knighthood and his ‘celebrity status’ was at its height in the UK. This is a narrative juxtaposing a This Is Your Life format with praise of Savile and his achievements, featuring voiceovers of Margret Thatcher and Cardinal Hume. In reality, ‘saint-like’ Savile was committing sexual harassment and assault on the productions he worked on. Both contexts of the play give a glimpse into the two sides to Savile’s life and in particular how controlling he was.
Leading the cast is impressionist Alistair McGowan, who plays the grotesque man in question with an eerie resemblance to Savile with his mannerisms, characteristics and distinctive accent being brought back to life. McGowan is true to form in full Savile attire – a metallic tracksuit, blonde wig and cigar.
The main allegation focuses on Lucy, played by Leah Whitaker, whose performance is utterly compelling. Lucy’s story sees her come forward to both the police and the editor of a newspaper on how she was abused by Savile aged 12, in a hospital. The only person throughout the play to believe Lucy’s story is the editor, until Savile’s manipulation is outed.
The play draws extensively from witness statements and police interview transcripts, the attention to detail notable. During police questioning – seeing Savile fidget, hating not being in control of the situation – hearing how similar the victims’ stories were to one another’s brought them to public attention. As each allegation was listed, Savile would respond with a repetitive “out of the question” remark – brazenly avoiding the claims.
An Audience with Jimmy Savile does not not glorify his behaviour, but tells a story, reporting the truth of the extraordinary crimes the man committed. It gives his victims a voice long denied to them.
An Audience with Jimmy Savile is on at the Park Theatre until 11th July 2015, for further information or to book visit here.