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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 September, 2004, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
Robbins defends Iraq war satire
Tim Robbins
Robbins' play examines the policy of "embedding" journalists with troops
US actor Tim Robbins has defended his satirical Iraq war play Embedded following "terrible" reviews.

The Oscar winner wrote and directed the play about coverage of the Iraq war, currently being performed in London.

"Everywhere we go we get terrible reviews but great responses," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I don't believe people in the media take criticism very well," he said. "Some are reviewing it as if it's a news programme instead of a satire."

'Intimidated media'

Robbins, an outspoken critic of the US-led war against Iraq, wrote the play to examine the policy of "embedding" news journalists with coalition troops during the war.

"I fear that we have lost our sense of what it is to have a free press in the US," he said.

Robbins felt that the UK media was "behind" the US in that respect, "but headed in our direction".

"I witnessed the kind of intimidation that the Blair government was trying to impose upon its press," he said.

Some people just truly hate it because it's too loud and too abrasive and too satirical
Tim Robbins
"That is not a healthy thing for any kind of free society or democracy."

Poor reviews for his play included an Associated Press verdict, which read: "Finding genuine wit in Embedded is as difficult as finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

Robbins said the poor critical reception in New York was to be expected when "you go into the media capital of the world and tell them they are full of nonsense".

He added: "Some people just truly hate it because it's too loud and too abrasive and too satirical."

Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon
Robbins and partner Susan Sarandon are outspoken critics of the Iraq war
Nevertheless he said Embedded played to full houses in Los Angeles and New York for a total of eight months.

Robbins added that a movie version of the play has been filmed, to be screened at this week's Venice Film Festival.

He denied that he had any ambition to be a politician and said he did not know whether the project had damaged his film career.

"Wouldn't it be more damaging to you as a person to not do something you really believed in based on your ambition and your greed?"

Embedded is being performed at The Riverside Studio in Hammersmith until 23 October.

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