The Media. It’s a fascinating, relevant and emotive topic, particularly in light of the recent Leveson debacle. In Long Story Short young theatre company Squint question the power and responsibility of the press, and if they don’t come up with any meaningful answers they at least succeed in providing an entertaining and interesting take on the subject.
There are two strands to their story; the first, set in the 1960s, concerns an ambitious Australian news entrepreneur (whoever could that be?) coming to London to revolutionise the popular press, and the second is a contemporary tale of a young offender’s desperate quest for news of his soldier brother, posted missing in Afghanistan. Both stories are intriguing and rich with possibility, however they are not sufficiently intertwined to emphasise their shared relevance and each ultimately detracts from any real emotional involvement in the other. The timeline jumps back and forth, interspersed with ensemble movement pieces which, though clever and extremely well-choreographed, further serve to distance the audience from the immediacy of the action.
The writing is intelligent and thought provoking, exploring the changing nature of the press from the ink-stained sixties to the sound-bite blogosphere world of today. The extensive research that the team has done into the subject, spending time in broadcast studios and interviewing journalists, has certainly paid off; there is a realism to the contemporary news scenes and the questioning, rather than judgemental, attitude to the moral aspects of the story is refreshing, allowing as it does the audience to make up their own minds on the subject.
The acting is generally very good, especially that of Cole Edwards as the young reprobate Jamie. It is only too easy to sympathise with his frustration and bewilderment in the face of the vagaries of the press and his climactic scene with the equally excellent Eva-Jane Willis is truly shattering and deeply moving. Moments such as this, free from the over-stylisation which is prevalent in much of the play, allow the real talent of this theatre group to shine through. Kevin Phelan was also very good as young Rupert (did you guess?) Murdoch; the mix of cocky amorality and true passion for his craft was spot on and his scenes with the British journalists were extremely well done.
Long Story Short is an intriguing, original and enjoyable play, and with a little trimming and tidying it has the potential to become something very special indeed.
Review by Genni Trickett
Long Story Short
Cast: Kevin Phelan, Cole Edwards, Louisa Roberts, Cliodhna McCorley, Tom Gordon, Fern McCauley, Eva-Jane Willis, Sam Jenkins-Shaw. Director Andrew Whyment, Production Designer Georgia De Grey, Lighting Designer Aaron J. Dootson, Composer Rhys Lewis.
Produced by Squint, Steven M. Levy and Sean Sweeney.
Charing Cross Theatre
Telephone: 08444 930650
In person: Charing Cross Theatre (no booking fee applies)
Monday 15 September – Saturday 11 October
Monday – Saturday at 7.45pm
Saturday at 4.00pm