Following a sold-out run at the Almeida Theatre earlier this year, James Graham's Ink has now transferred to the West End.
Starring Bertie Carvel as a young, ambitious Rupert Murdoch and Richard Coyle as tenacious editor Larry Lamb, Ink follows the story of how The Sun came to be the paper we recognise today, charting its first year under Murdoch’s control.
While this might not sound like material for a 5-star, ballsy West End smash, under Graham’s expert authorship, Ink is a triumph.
Certainly, Graham is currently the toast of the West End. Having seen huge success with his election drama This House last year – and currently celebrating with Labour of Love just down the road at the Noel Coward – with Ink, he’s created a sure-fire sensation.
Act one is particularly well done. As Lamb looks to build his team of colleagues at the new Sun – a fine supporting cast including Geoffrey Freshwater, Sophie Stanton and Rene Zagger – it’s a pithy, fast-paced, acerbic look at ’60s Fleet Street, which goes some way to highlight that not much has changed for journalists over the last half-century.
Act two is darker in tone, but Ink doesn’t suffer because of it. For the most part, it focuses on the real-life kidnapping of Muriel Mckay, and Murdoch’s and The Sun‘s connection to the case.
In doing so, Ink dares to explore the dark paths that journalists are unafraid to tread in order to get a scoop – a starkly powerful message for a post-News of the World audience.
Overall it’s a taut, tense drama, peppered with moments of true comedy from a talented, captivating ensemble.
Leading the charge are Carvel and Coyle. As Murdoch, Carvel has clearly done his homework, copying mannerisms, idiosyncrasies and foibles of the multi-billionaire octogenarian we recognise today; however, it’s Coyle, as Lamb, who is the beating heart of the piece.
Here is a man, torn between the things he knows he must do for his career and his own moral backbone. The result is almost Shakespearean in tone.
Ink is running at the Duke of York’s Theatre until 6 January 2018. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.co.uk.