“What makes a good story?” The seemingly simple opening line of Ink turns out to be the cornerstone of the plot.
Words Gabrielle Hernandez
Ink tells the story of the reinvention of The Sun, courtesy of Rupert Murdoch and Larry Lamb. Lined will tension, moral dilemmas and hilarity, Ink gives an inside look into the drama-filled newspaper business of the 1970s.
This high quality production creates the perfect setting for the retelling of The Sun’s history as a tabloid newspaper. A mountain of desks is constructed to portray depth and dimension on stage. Stacking them atop each other to create a stair-like structure, it gives the characters the perfect backdrop for the disorder they create on Fleet Street.
As Murdoch and Lamb reinvent The Sun, they face pushback from other top publications, but they never cease to create disruption with flashy headlines and obscene stories. Dotted with one liners that had even the actors cracking an uncharacteristic smile, the play does well to combine humour with seriousness.
Their rise to power is documented through a intriguing musicality in the storyline. A parade of colours and characters dance about on-stage, showing off various front covers that are the force behind their success. The climax of their fame comes with the decision to publish a nude photo. Not only does this change the way the publication is viewed, but is a life-altering decision for the model as well as Lamb’s career as Editor.
It brings into question the driving force behind such decisions. In the first scene, Lamb explains that in writing a good story you must answer the five w’s: who, what, when, where and why. You can see these five repetitious letters illuminated atop the mountain of desks, emphasising their importance to the storyline. He emphasises that once the ‘why’ is answered, the story is no longer of any worth. Once you know why, you no longer need the other four w’s.
The play delves into the thought process behind choosing what goes into publication. These big decisions about whether to publish controversial stories or photos is what skyrockets The Sun onto a whole new level – but at a cost. Characters begin to question the ethics of their work, contemplating why they make decisions and how to live with them.
One supporting character recounts how an elder photographer has burns on his hands from the flash powder. He leaves a lingering question: “If every photo you took burned itself into your skin, what would you choose to capture?” The concept of the ‘why’ proves to be a strong recurring theme throughout.
Ink not only takes a deeper look into the media, but also allows for self reflection on the decisions we make and how they change the course of our lives forever.