Frank Stone (Alan Lovell) is acting editor of a daily newspaper. He’s been away and is back in the office and on the job again much sooner than his colleagues expected. There’s Ralph Jones (Brian Sergent), long-serving journalist, Sam Hunter (Jessica Robinson), well-regarded journalist, Jo Pointer (Acushla-Tara Sutton), newbie journalist (who has come from blogging OMG), and Bill Singer (Paul McLaughlin), General Manager. Arriving in the office on the same day is Belinda Barnes (Janine Burchett ), a marketing and public relations expert sent over by the Australian head office. There are also four silent interns, played by students from Whitireia, who walk around with bits of paper, lean over each other’s shoulders, and point at computer screens.
Everything is acted with great energy on a naturalistic newsroom set. (Designed by Dennis Hearfield, there’s a reason for the large construction team credited in the programme. It looks fantastic.) The script includes lots of interesting information about how a daily newspaper is put together – from gathering the stories, deciding on the lead, revealing who gets interviewed and why. There are a number of fun interactions scattered throughout the play that I imagine have been discussions in newsrooms. (Should this phrase have a hyphen? Will there be a New Zealander close to the story that we can interview?) The drama is all about the newspaper. There isn’t much left for the characters. The sub-plots are either easily spotted or incomprehensible given the lack of chemistry between the actors. It wasn’t helped by Lovell muffing his lines and making at least one glaring factual mistake the night I saw the play. (If a character is known for his accuracy then the actor better be up to the task.) I hope he improves over the season.
Curiously unfulfilling yet still interesting to watch.
- The truth game by Simon Cunliffe on at Circa One until10 November 2012.