Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Review: Ink

by Daniel Hill

The Almeida Theatre in London has yet again continued to wow audiences with their new play Ink. It is based on the true story of the relationship between Rupert Murdoch and Larry Lamb as they converted The Sun newspaper into the best-selling in the country. The play, written by James Graham, explores how The Sun became the number one paper by using immoral ways and means. Bertie Carvel returned to the Almeida to play Murdoch and Richard Coyle made his Almeida debut as Lamb. The play featured direction from Rupert Goold who has been the theatre’s Artistic Director since 2013.

Richard Coyle depicts Larry Lamb’s power crazy turn in a sublime fashion which occasionally shows him to be evil while Carvel powerfully conveys the Australian Business man’s slight loss of power over his paper in an impotent manner. I thought that Coyle demanded the controlled the stage and this became more prominent in the second act when the play began to turn darker.  The two men who were often seen on stage opposite each other created a tight partnership and made the play the success it was making sure comic timing was to perfection and that silences were left at points to add to the eerie atmosphere. The rest of the cast helped to maintain the fast pace throughout and added to the many comical moments from the script.

The script written by James Graham carefully crafted the story delightfully to collaborative with Rupert Goold’s genius direction which has also recently been seen in the televised version of King Charles III. The script was framed by scenes in which Murdoch and Lamb are together as it is stated by Murdoch that they have a story and that “all the best stories are true.” This gives a perspective on why I enjoyed this play so much. It was definitely one of the best plays I have seen at the Almeida and elsewhere in recent times. Possibly even the best. The direction seen on stage from Rupert Goold was perfectly complemented by the script which was delivered with thought and made the audience go away in awe.

The set design and lighting design also effectively added to the foundation which was the script. The set was mainly made up of typical work desks and other things such as piles of paper bounded together which reflected the disorganised nature of the paper as it continued its venture into the new style of papers that we know today. The lighting and sound were both used powerfully to enhance the performances on stage with the play starting in almost darkness as we just heard two voices having a conversation about what makes a story. This darkness made the script more important as we were made to concentrate on it that bit more. The idea of a good story was repeated throughout. This play was certainly a good story!

The play was performed with both emotion, tension and humour. Maybe it is those three things that make a good story. Although there may not be a definitive answer to what a good story contains, this is certainly one of the best. I would like to congratulate the cast and creatives for creating a play which made the majority of audience members utter the words “what a good play” as they left.

Ink is playing at The Almeida Theatre until 5th August. 

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