Skip to content

Ink – Almeida Theatre

August 2, 2017

(seen at the afternoon performance on 29th July 2017)

In 1969, “The Sun” was a failing broadsheet newspaper, owned by Mirror Group. Enter Australian Rupert Murdoch (Bertie Carvel), a newspaper man shocked that Britain still uses “hot metal” not computers – a situation he is determined to remedy. With a rag-bag staff, poached from the company who sold him the newspaper, he sets about re-connecting with British Working People – and changes Fleet Street publishing in the process.

James Graham chooses to tell the story in similar fashion. Act 1 is the “broadsheet” as editor Larry Lamb (Richard Coyle) puts together both team and newspaper, and we get a whistle-stop education in how a newspaper was compiled in that era. Act 2 is the “tabloid,” the story of rapid grown, the McKay Affair and yes, the creation of “Page 3.”

Truthfully, it’s engrossing and irritating by turn. For the monkey, act 1 was pretty much outstanding. It happened to be sitting next to someone who worked in the industry at the time though – and the lady wasn’t quite so sure. It almost captured the atmosphere, but she was worried about the structure. By the end of the second half, the monkey agreed.

There’s an even better play in there, somewhere, and it doesn’t quite come to the fore to lift it to 5-star historic status as it hints. Somehow, the excitement of the first half, the camaraderie and very “British” humour dissipates as the pace shifts from organic to episodic. In fact, the final 20 minutes almost seem grafted on – as if they “had to cover the girl” (or indeed, uncover her) and couldn’t somehow find a place for it elsewhere in the production.

Still, this is a hugely enjoyable ensemble event. Coyle evolves from a naïve ambition to hard-bitten editor, Carvel reveals ever-more interesting aspects of the owner in a pair of award-winning performances.

For the ladies, Pearl Chandra makes Stephanie Rahn a wonderful creation, her decision and repercussions heartbreaking. By contrast, Rachel Caffrey simply IS 1969, careless airy astrologer Diana, trophy wife Anna, sexy Chrissie and a neat apprentice too. As the voice of the working woman, Sophie Stanton (Joyce Hopkirk) can’t be bettered – her frankness making many men in the audience as uncomfortable as those on stage, which is good.

Other notable performances are Jack Holden as photographer Beverley (and a neat Christopher Timothy impression – minus cows) and Geoffrey Freshwater as a militant Chapel Father.

On a perfect, shambolic news-room set (Bunny Christie, projections by Jon Driscoll) director Rupert Goold ensures a fast moving event about the happy crew who changed British news forever, and it’s a pleasure to share their story. Do catch the transfer if you can.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: