Long Story Short Review

Long Story Short

In a former life I used to return home from a sophisticated evening with associates, my donner and the bollocks set out before me as a reward for an evening’s conscientious devotion to uncle lager and auntie gin.

Steaming into my feast like a caveman discovering he lives up the road from a Lidl, I would turn on the rolling news and drift off into a fitful coma.

Often, in the midst of an erotic dream sequence, I would start and mutter to myself:

“Who actually watches this nonsense sober?”

Yet clearly an enormous number of us do. As a consequence our consumption of the news has led to its presentation being drastically altered. We devour news like I once gorged on reconstituted ‘meat’ after an evening on the sauce.

We, the people, set the agenda. Much to the annoyance of The Fourth Estate.

We call female MP’s lesbians in the comments section of online publications if we don’t agree with their idealistic leanings.

We film footballers desperately trying not to be racist and broadcast it on YouTube.

We ‘like’ footage of kittens falling off chairs.

You could say that we, the people, are the modern day equivalent of the young Rupert Murdoch. The idealistic and opportunistic entrepreneur only too eager to shove a firework up the arse of Fleet Street and set it alight.

And this is the argument that Andrew Whyment’s Long Story Short, now embarking on a run in the Charing Cross Theatre, explores.

Do we want our media, along with its friends in Westminster, to suckle at the teat of an octogenarian Australian with an unfathomably hot wife?

Or do we prefer the consumer driven digital media of today’s hashtag revolution?

The narrative of Long Story Short contains two threads, set decades apart.

The young Murdoch travelling to Britain to purchase The News of the World, debating the role of the media with colleagues and people he meets along the way, and the emerging story of three soldiers missing in action in Afghanistan.

The two tales are intelligently interwoven, the small cast members play different characters, generations divided, traveling through the same airport.

Murdoch strikes a relationship with a British ingénue in exile, fleeing the attention of the interfering tabloid press.

Twitter-driven conspiracy theories about the missing soldiers gather momentum and are latched onto by an intern in an independent television news room.

An editorial faux-pas and a hastily arranged and deeply flawed rescue mission ultimately find the audience asking the question.

Do we actually just get the media we deserve?

The writers of Long Story Short are careful not to judge Murdoch with good reason; everyone already knows what he is.

But to present a youthful Murdoch and his vision of sticking two fingers up at the establishment rather conveniently forgets that in this new digital media age Murdoch is himself, the establishment.

The wannabe prime ministerial kingmaker is now the target of the online blogosphere, savvy to his political agenda and obsession with tits.

The script feels clunky in places, none of the characters particularly engage and scenes at the beginning involving the young Rupert seem slow and almost at odds with its parallel sibling storyline. Occasionally the narrative in the newsroom stretches credibility.

However despite this the play is very watchable, mainly due to the fabulous direction and engaging performances of the entire cast, particularly Cole Edwards, as Jamie, the media savvy little brother of one of the missing soldiers.

But, most importantly, the readership of www.soundbiteculture.com will be delighted to learn that I managed to watch and enjoy Long Story Short with its news drenched plot and stay entirely sober throughout.

Although I still had a kebab on the way home, just for old time’s sakes… you know how it is.

Frank Gardiner

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Dates ‘n stuff

September 2014