Winner! 1986 Society of West End Theatres Award for Best New Play
Pravda (which means 'truth') is a satire written at the height of
Thatcherism when huge political changes were afoot. The play essentially
studies, through black humour and close scrutiny, the tabloid ethic and
the media industry as a get-rich-quick-fix.
In the programme for the original 1985 production of Pravda,
Brenton wrote: 'Pravda means 'the truth'. English newspapers aren't
propaganda sheets. The question is, why do so many of them choose to
behave as if they are?'
The character of Lambert Le Roux is a
South African newspaper tycoon and the owner of several companies,
striding his way through the regional papers en route to Fleet Street.
Turning broadsheets tabloid, dumbing down the message, and stretching
the truth, Le Roux takes no prisoners as he manipulates politicians and
creates a media monopoly out of a once-respected industry.
Roux is bent on dominating England's press as he has elsewhere in the
world. As we see Le Roux accomplish his aims, we see also how the press
is not the organ of truth we like to think it is. The dissemination of
the truth is no longer its primary goal under the 'Lambert Le Rouxs' of
our world. What is important now is what sells.
The play is an
epic satire on the media in the Thatcher era; a morality tale about how
Andrew, a young liberal journalist, finally succumbs to Le Roux, who
makes him editor of a tabloid; and allegedly the play is a direct
representation of Rupert Murdoch who, even in 1985, was a major force in
Howard Brenton's and David Hare's first collaboration since Brassneck
in 1973, Pravda was premiered at the National Theatre in May 1985,
starring Anthony Hopkins and directed by David Hare, and was awarded the
London Standard Best Play Award, the City Limits Best Play Award, and
the Plays and Players Best Play Award.
"A savagely bitchy and often wildly funny evening." - Punch
"A magnificent epic drama." - Financial Times