A New York Theatre Guide to... Ink!
Here's all you need to know about the outstanding American premiere of London's smash hit Ink...
Stop the Press!!! Manhattan Theatre Club’s American premiere of Ink has hit the headlines with a highly respectable total of six Tony Award nominations, so we thought it’s about high time we brought you our New York Theatre Guide to… Ink! Read all about it, folks!
Playwright James Graham’s dynamic, buzzing piece made waves across the pond, premiering off-West End at the Almeida Theatre in the summer of 2017 before transferring to the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre in the fall and eventually being honored with a 2018 Olivier Award nomination. We can always count on the Manhattan Theatre Club to import the most exciting plays to the Big Apple and Ink is no exception. This thrice-extended limited engagement began previews at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on April 2, 2019, officially opened on April 24, and is now playing through to July 7, 2019.
What’s it all about?
Set in London in 1969, Ink follows an unlikely and ruthlessly determined partnership between the young, Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Larry Lamb, a native Yorkshireman and talented journalist, who Murdoch hires to be the Editor of his newly acquired British newspaper, The Sun. The play depicts how the pair turn the failing tabloid into the UK’s most popular read in just one year, despite having only a fraction of the staff and resources its main competitor, The Daily Mirror (previously the most-read newspaper in the entire world), has at its disposal. With the injection of sex, drugs, rock n roll, (and, of course, the infamous “Page 3 Girls”), Lamb turns The Sun into the everyman’s paper, and thereby shapes the tabloid press of the future. The road to the top is not without consequences, however, as we are forced to ask ourselves the question: How much would we be willing to sacrifice for sales figures?
Who’s starring in it?
A real treat for American audiences, original cast member Bertie Carvel, who won an Olivier Award for his performance as Rupert Murdoch in 2018, reprises the role on Broadway and has just earned a Tony Award nomination for his efforts. He gives an uncanny interpretation of the young Murdoch and no matter how you personally feel about the man, you simply can’t take your eyes off of him, thanks to Carvel’s brash appeal and magnetism. Broadway fans will already know him from his hilarious and equally terrifying Tony-nominated turn as headmistress Miss Trunchbull in Matilda The Musical back in 2013. Opposite Carvel, taking on the role of Larry Lamb is Jonny Lee Miller, who American audiences will know as Sherlock Holmes (alongside Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson) in “Elementary” on CBS or as ‘Sickboy’ in Danny Boyle’s two hugely popular “Trainspotting” movies. Miller gives an equally commanding and perhaps slightly more sympathetic performance as Lamb and embodies the man’s man character of Northern England perfectly.
What’s special about this production?
Perhaps the main thing to say about this production is that it is a theatrically-charged sensory overload. Anyone thinking this is a dry, stale, business-themed drama should strongly think again. The staging is an abstract and manic representation of a bustling Fleet Street in London, complete with a dizzying array of projections and lighting effects. Whilst newspaper headlines bombard you left, right and center, the cast even break out into almost drunken choreography to original music supplied by Adam Cork at various intervals. The amount of imagination and theatricality director and two-time Tony Award nominee Rupert Goold has poured into this production is mesmerizing and should be highly commended.
Who would we recommend it to?
Ink would be a great choice for those perhaps not used to attending plays on Broadway. It often pulsates like a musical and there is never a dull moment – the perfect way to break you into the genre of the “straight play”. Otherwise, Anglophiles and all those who take a keen interest in the media and how its reported and represented will feel like they’ve died and ended up in theatre heaven after watching Ink. And when all’s said and done and the ink has dried (… sorry), you’ll know you’ve witnessed a great chapter in theatre history.
Ink Tickets are available now for performances through to July 7, 2019.
(Photos by Joan Marcus)