Fri Oct 13 2023
There’s a sadness about this work from James Graham. Many of the ideas behind Rupert Murdoch’s first newspaper seemed quite acceptable. Socialist even. “Give the people what they want. “ “A newspaper for the people” “Tell stories of normal people”. In retrospect Murdoch’s Sun may well have been a kind of forerunner of social media where the humdrum activities of the rank and file were deemed sufficient to fill a newspaper.
Murdoch was also out to break the hold of the establishment on Fleet Street. He saw himself as a new broom that would sweep old and dusty entrenched attitudes aside. The rest of course is history. From there the local Adelaide boy would take on New York and the world and eventually become an entrenched stalwart of right-wing values, and one of the most insidious influences on contemporary life.
But Ink only takes us through to the end of the first chapter in this remarkable story, when Murdoch’s remodelled Sun outsells its nemesis on the back of the introduction of the page 3 model. And it is a wonderful emotional roller coaster of a ride. Directors Robert Bell and Rebecca Kemp, together with an extremely capable and large ensemble cast manage to brilliantly convey the manic stress behind the scenes of newspaper production, the exhilarating highs shared when brainstorming ideas for a new approach to journalism, and celebrating success when the ratings come in all good news. The buzz around these scenes is infectious, and delivered with authenticity and a great sense of fun. Just one of several scenes in this play that are really very funny.
The success of this production is undoubtedly a team effort, but it rests safely on the shoulders of two stellar acting performances by Joshua Coldwell and Bart Csoba. Coldwell is suitably brash and provocative as Murdoch. He has just enough nerve to ruffle feathers while still maintaining a sense of decency and likeability that allows him to get away with the outrageous. But hats off to Bart Csorba as the real hero of this story, Larry Lamb – the editor Murdoch entrusted to translate his vision into reality. Larry Lamb is the stereotypical newspaper guy. Most of the time he seems just shy of breaking point as he chides, encourages, and berates his staff to deliver the goods – hyper-enthusiastic, hyper-critical, hyper-anxious but always ready to celebrate success. His is a remarkable performance.
Such an entertaining show. As ever the Little Theatre’s split level and multiple entry/exit points were beautifully exploited. The audience loved the scenes where Larry cajoled fellow journos to come along on a risky crazy ride, and the hilarious group creation of the masthead, motto, and the new paper’s first edition.
Things become quite a bit more sober later in the show with the kidnapping of Muriel McKay, the wife of Murdoch’s deputy, and as reports start to filter in of people in high places being offended by this rambunctious new kid on the block. But despite the offence and the ruffled feathers the ratings continued to soar.
As they should for this production of Ink!
Ink continues at the LIttleTheatre, The Cloisters, The University of Adelaide at various times until Sun 22 Oct.
Click HERE to purchase tickets.