Ink Review Round-up

Ink Review Round-up


★★★★★ — The Telegraph

“Far from being smugly satirical and yah-boo, the depiction of the Australian interloper is finely sketched: Carvel, although surprisingly under-twanged in terms of Aussie accent, cuts a dapper but hunched, scrutinisingly intense and diffident figure. <...> Once again finding a play for today in what looked like yesterday’s news, Graham has surely penned a super, soaraway smash.”

★★★★★ — RevStan

“Bertie Carvel's Murdoch is as crisp as his tailoring; he settles into a sharp and intelligent performance that gives the newspaper tycoon a formidable air and presence. <...> Ink is a feisty play, with a first half particularly full of laughs, and yet it doesn't take sides leaving you to mull over the consequences of the actions.”
Photo by Marc Brenner

★★★★★ — Theatre Cat

“At the helm, Bertie Carvel brilliantly dishes all the dirty ambition of the Dirty Digger. But nicely mixed with the underdog fighting spirit we all like to get behind. The line between charming trailblazer and ruthless exploiter is nailed perfectly with a sly Aussie accent and a slightly twitchy mannerism.”

★★★★★ — Shaw Sheet

“James Graham’s latest play, superbly directed by Rupert Goold, is both genuinely funny and thought provoking. <...> Bertie Carvel as Murdoch is a suitably diffident, impeccably dressed outsider, shunning the limelight but relishing the profile. <...> Ultimately James Graham may have delivered something more than just an account of the last century’s biggest media epoch. He may also have exposed how the press came to command too much power. Social media is now challenging this position, and the latest political drama demonstrates the extent to which the popular press has lost its punch.”

★★★★ — The Guardian

“Bertie Carvel plays Murdoch not as some horned monster but as a man driven by the ruthless logic of the market, and as someone who prizes business success over the consolations of friendship: Carvel even suggests Murdoch is shy and awkward when asked to confront his employees. <...> Goold’s production, with an outstanding set by Bunny Christie comprising an Everest of newspaper desks, fairly whizzes along and captures the dizzy excitement of the hot metal era.”

★★★★ — The Times

“Bertie Carvel fascinates as Murdoch, now aged 86 and executive chairman of News Corp, the owner of The Times, here portrayed sympathetically as a complex outsider, lean and hungry but also by turns explosive and thoughtful. <...> The first half is too long, with a bit too much explaining, the detail, which Graham adores, in danger of swamping the plot. The second half, though, is gripping as Lamb wrestles with the consequences of his creation and his quest to beat the bestselling Mirror.”

★★★★ — Financial Times

“The first half of the play, at least, shows the upside of cheeky populism as a corrective to the increasingly stuffy preachiness of the Mirror under Hugh Cudlipp. It seems like an adventure: the recruitment of staff is staged by Rupert Goold as the stage equivalent of a movie training montage, complete with musical pulse.”

★★★★ — The Stage

“Bertie Carvel’s performance as Murdoch consistently avoids caricature. He’s a square-shouldered, stiff-limbed, somewhat socially awkward figure, intent on disrupting the old models of journalism. <...> With the exception of Lamb and Murdoch, the secondary characters feel thinly-sketched <...> but Graham’s skill lies in the way his play tells its story and tells it well, while also asking questions about the role of the press in society, its power, influence – and responsibility.”

★★★★ — Evening Standard

“Bertie Carvel’s performance as Murdoch is the big draw, and from the moment he first appears, arguing over dining arrangements and promising to be an iconoclast, he resembles Shakespeare's Richard III, hunched yet flamboyant. <...> Graham's three-hour epic is occasionally overloaded with expository detail and meanders a little in its second half. But, buoyed by his trademark appetite for asking awkward questions, it’s a shrewd and absorbing look at journalistic ethics.”
Photo by Marc Brenner

★★★★ — The Independent

“Bertie Carvel confirms that he’s one of the most physically fascinating actors working today; his Murdoch is a crabbed thing, hands crooked and twisting, jaw tucked into his chest, a contorted smirk suggesting the yearning of an outsider as well as amused contempt for anyone less ruthless that himself. <...> Ink shows how rapidly ambition can corrupt – and how Lamb and Murdoch’s relentless stoking of appetites for smut, scandal and sensation in exchange for sales changed the landscape of the British media forever. Graham and Goold wrap all this up in a damn good story, Told Well.”

★★★★ — WhatsOnStage

“But what makes Ink ultimately unmissable is Carvel's performance as Murdoch. It would have been easy to turn such a hate figure into a caricature, but Carvel gets under his skin. Every time he appears, his arms stiff, his body tensed, coiled with the sense of his own power, he sends a jolt of electricity through the entire theatre, perfectly encapsulating the dangerous disruption that Murdoch brought to British society.”

★★★★ — Broadway World

“Bertie Carvel provides a humane version of the divisive moderniser. He's a fascinating series of contradictions: a self-made brand, yet cripplingly shy. <...> Carvel's Murdoch is all control: humming with energy, but physically constrained, his voice - with a trace of accent - silky and seductive. <...> Slick, lively and asking serious questions about the responsibility of the press, and whether we, the public, should demand more from it, Graham proves that it's entirely possible to simultaneously inform, educate and entertain.”

★★★★ — Time Out

“Hissing, hunched and sinuous, Carvel’s Murdoch looks at everyone and everything like they’re his prey.”

★★★★ — Express

“Rupert Goold’s lively production rattles along like a runaway train and the first half is a breathless, exciting and bumpy ride. <...> Among the sterling cast, Carvel invests Murdoch with an intriguing mixture of brashness and reticence while Coyle brilliantly conveys the mercurial Lamb who discovered the hard way that once Pandora’s Box has been opened it can never be closed. ”

★★★★ — Metro

“Carvel’s Murdoch has the charisma of Dracula, while Coyle’s Lamb is a newspaperman with ink in his veins. Murdoch haters won’t leave with a new love for the mogul. But they might have a bit more respect.”

★★★★ — iNews

“Ink is funny, but thankfully, never arch. It looks at the scabrous stories and cynicism, but it also does justice to the wit and skill of Sun journalists. <...> Bertie Carvel is suitably reptilian – and brilliant – as the Dirty Digger. A shameless visionary who understood that he could beat the media establishment by giving readers, not what the great and the good thought they needed, but what the readers wanted: fun, sex, holidays – and television.”

★★★★ — Daily Mail

Photo by Marc Brenner

★★★ — The Arts Desk

“The main problem with the play, however, is that it talks too much about stories, but shows too few of them. <...> Graham has clearly done a lot of reading, but he should know by now that good writers have to cut their research and concentrate on the main game.  <...> Still, Carvel has plenty of attractively silky charm and gives Murdoch – who like the Devil gets most of the best tunes – a fair dollop of youthful energy.”

★★★ — London Theatre

“There are times when it feels that Graham is trying to cram rather too many in; scenes that relish in the old-fashioned journalistic romance of casting the hot metal to print the paper from are impressively visualised by director Rupert Goold and his designer Bunny Christie, but feel padded. <...> Though a large ensemble cast of 14 populate numerous characters, the spellbinding centre of the play has Richard Coyle as Lamb and Bertie Carvel as Murdoch, giving extremely nuanced performances of the moral ambiguities each man wrestles with.”

★★★ — The Upcoming

“On one hand Graham should be praised for creating a relatively balanced portrayal of a figure it would be all too easy to assassinate – something aided by a sharp, hunched Bertie Carvel, who excels at playing charming shits. Yet Murdoch presides over an empire of hate, his various outlets aggressively fanning the flames of fear. It doesn’t feel enough to have him as the oddly prudish devil on Larry Lamb’s shoulder.”


+ The Hollywood Reporter

“It's a sharply written, vibrantly theatrical, boisterously performed piece of work. And while it vividly recaptures the now extinct world of Fleet Street <...> the play's depiction of the rise of a certain brand of populism and its immediately detrimental effect on British society makes it profoundly of the moment.”

+ Maryam Philpott

“This is one of the not-to-be-missed shows of the summer, a hilarious, pointed and nuanced examination of the tabloid press and the two men who brought it into being, Larry Lamb and Rupert Murdoch. <...> Best described as a comedy drama, Ink is a joy from start to finish and considerably more balanced than you’d imagine a play about the origins of a tabloid newspaper to be. <...> Bertie Carvel has to bear the weight of even more expectation as the young Murdoch, espousing Thatcherite ideals of individualism and big business a decade before she became Prime Minister. Carvel captures the soft accent and slightly hunched physical demeanour extremely well and works hard to keep Murdoch on the right side of caricature.”
Photo by Marc Brenner

+ Tom Bolton

“It is a carnival of a play, packed with hard-drinking, hard-smoking editors, journalists, subs, and printers, each with their own pub. It is also a compelling and clear-eyed analysis of what tabloid culture has given us, and what it has taken away. <...> Graham is careful, presumably with lawyers peering over his shoulder, to stick to publicly known facts, but Carvel plays Murdoch as an awkward character, with an oddly puritanical streak, unable to resist the lure of personal publicity which will eventually leave him so exposed.”

+ British Theatre Guide

“Helped by a strong supporting cast playing multiple roles, Richard Coyle and Bertie Carvel excel in a riveting evening that seems certain to follow so many recent Almeida productions to the West End in the not too distant future.”

+ Exeunt Magazine

“It’s gripping stuff, suffused with a resounding historical significance, and Graham paints it all with rambunctious brushstrokes. <...> [Murdoch] isn’t the octogenarian, cradle-snatching media mogul of today, but the dapper, debonair Murdoch of yesteryear. Carvel, oozing a faintly reptilian menace, barks and bites his way around Bunny Christie’s set – a multi-levelled, multi-farious mock-up of an old-timey newspaper office – decorating his hostile, heretical dialogue with fierce hand-gestures and a pitch-perfect Australian brogue. It’s an astonishing, transformative performance, and one matched every step of the way by Coyle, who’s Yorkshire-born Lamb embodies just the right combination of faded journo charm and scumbag sleaze. ”

+ View from the Cheap Seat

“Carvel portrays him [Murdoch] as a man who knows how to command attention, but doesn’t like to be the focus of it. In scenes with Lamb or when challenged by a TV interviewer about the morals of journalism, he passionately defends the press’ right to flout authority and seek out truth. <...> Graham has seemingly chosen to exercise a lighter touch here, presenting the sequence of events as they unfolded, with added dramatic flourish. This gives the play the feel of a biopic or a documentary, which serves its fascinating source material well, but at the cost of minimising its author’s voice.”

+ Partially Obstructed View

“The second act isn’t as satisfying as the first, partly because it’s got an awkward structure, split as it is between two major subplots that take the story, and the paper, in a darker direction. <...> Carvel may be the one of the main star names and his character the most famous one, but Murdoch is kept both literally and metaphorically in the shadows, Carvel playing him softly-spoken with his head permanently tilted to one side, an enigmatic awkwardness that could be shyness or could just be his belief in the ultimate importance of the market making him completely uninterested in any real engagement with other human beings.”