Often compelling drama by James Graham on the rise of the British Tabloid, The Sun, under Rupert Murdoch, with a slick staging by Rupert Goold.
By: Patrick Christiano
April 29, 2019: Playwright James Graham spins an often-compelling tale, inspired by real events, in his play Ink, which is premiering on Broadway after a critically acclaimed run on London’s West End. The story follows Rupert Murdoch, as he buys a British tabloid, The Sun, the lowest, circulation wise, of all the Fleet Street tabloids in London. His plan was to have the failing tabloid compete with The Mirror, the top tabloid in the world, and eventually eclipse their 5 million world-wide readerships by giving the people what they want.
Goold’s fast and furious staging incorporates singing, dancing, and a good deal of piano playing to paint a lurid picture of the scheming temperament of Fleet Street journalism, while simultaneously connecting with the human story behind the headlines.
At the center of Goold’s dynamic staging are two towering performances by Bertie Carvel, reprising his London Olivier-winning performance, as a young determined Murdoch, and Jonny Lee Miller, playing his combative rogue editor, who recruits a rag-tag team of reporters. Carvel and Miller are explosive together portraying men, who will go to any lengths for success. And Carvel’s performance, which manifests itself with an intense physical life that feels completely organic, is both fascinating and repellant. “Who needs friends, when you have readers.” Murdoch says. “Give people more of what they want TV and TV coverage.”
Playwright Graham has used the history of the struggles of The Sun, during Murdoch’s first year, to fashion a fast- paced newspaper story. The first scene in Act I is riveting, however the rest of the act, although entertaining, doesn’t have another extended scene. The unfolding set-up is told with engrossing broad strokes, revealing the character’s true motives gradually in a series quick-paced mini-scenes.
I’m not sure that Broadway audiences will be attracted to a story about a British tabloid, however the script by Graham is excellent, all of the performances are outstanding, and Goold’s staging is smart and flamboyant, perfect for a tale that is eerily prophetic, because Rupert Murdoch saw the potential for selling populism to the masses decades ago.
Manhattan Theatre Club
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Tue 7pm, Wed 2pm & 7pm, Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm. Running time: two hours and 40 mins. including intermission. $79—$189. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com.
April 24—July 7, 2019
Photography: Joan Marcus