Why is Rupert Murdoch’s red-top tabloid The Sun reviewing a Henrik Ibsen play for the first time in its 52-year history?

Readers of the low-brow paper might have been surprised to read what seemed like a straight review of An Enemy of the People. But the cleverly worded rave “review” is a sneak attack on the play’s star, Downton Abbey‘s Hugh Bonneville.

Says The Sun:

“Hugh Bonneville ditches his safe family man image for a performance packed with passion and desire as he fights to reveal a corrosive secret in his first return to the stage in more than a decade.

“Forget the staid Earl of Grantham of TV’s Downton Abbey fame; this Bonneville character throws himself headlong into the fiercest of battles against lies and deceit with admirable determination.

“The truth and who deserves to hear it, no matter what cost to reputation and image, is an age-old question as relevant today as when Henrik Ibsen posed it in 1882, and the Norwegian playwright could have wished for no better advocate than Bonneville.

“Ibsen was railing against the hypocrisy of those who would deny the public the right to make up their own minds when he penned this classic and Bonneville captures the mood perfectly as Ibsen’s flawed hero Dr Tomas Stockmann.”

“The truth and who deserves to hear it, no matter what cost … the hypocrisy of those who would deny the public the right to make up their own minds …” What in the name of Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice is going on?

It’s almost as if The Sun has a particular bone to pick with Bonneville over the matter of press freedom. Almost as if the paper knows something about Bonneville it deems to be in the public interest and would like to publish, but it is legally not able to do so. And it’s almost as if The Sun is doing its damnedest to skirt the presence of a legal order and tell its audience, without telling them, that there’s more here and that it is quite cross at being muzzled.

Almost.

We don’t like being coy any more than The Sun does, but we can’t connect the dots. However, very astute readers will be able to connect the dots themselves. With a bit of internet research, you can pick up what The Sun is so very desperately trying to put down.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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