WORTH A LOOK: *****
WHERE: Almeida Theatre
WHEN: 19/6, press night 27/6, runs to 5/8
Star Bertie Carvel’s father John worked on the Guardian for 36 years before retiring in 2009.
- Read on for reasons including how this new play’s mistaken identity kidnapping is no fake news
Apt then that Carvel Junior should take on the role of media mogul Rupert Murdoch with such relish.
We’ve seen Carvel at this venue in Bakkhai and later in 2015 also in The Hairy Ape at the Old Vic and tonight he once again proves he is the one of the most talented actors of his generation by appearing unrecognisable from those previous roles.
Our story begins in 1969 when Murdoch recruits Larry Lamb (played as a bluff Yorkshireman by Robert Coyle) as editor of his newly-acquired paper The Sun which he hopes can be more popular than market leader The Mirror.
What follows in the first half is predictable as Coyle, the centrepoint of this piece, recruits fellow Fleet Street misfits to produce a ‘people’s paper’ with an emphasis on ‘win, free, love’.
It is in the second half where author James Graham’s (This House, TV’s Coalition) moves in directions we weren’t expecting, making it a contender for best new play of 2017 so far.
There is a kidnapping case on the basis of mistaken identity which sounds unlikely but we’ve Google-d it and it’s true, as well as the arrival of Page Three, The Sun‘s popular crowning glory, and a surprisingly sympathetic portrayal of Murdoch.
Director Rupert Goold gives us a set that is the most inventive we’ve ever seen at this venue, to match a new play by Graham that is full of laughs as well as despair at how The Sun changed journalism forever.
It’s Carvel’s razor-sharp Murdoch however Wot Won It to make Ink 2017’s must-see new play.