Jonathan Biggins’ latest play for the Sydney Theatre Company looks at how the ubiquity of digital media has caused a blurring of lines between entertainment and editorial, news and gossip. Talk references some well-known (read notorious) identities and stories to create a fictitious but easily recognisable drama/farce that provides plenty of laughs while delivering sobering content.
At the centre of the narrative is a shock jock, played by John Waters, who is about to discover the real consequences of his words. Peter Kowitz plays a seasoned newsman closing out his career – but not before he tries for one last major scoop. At the third point of the media triangle is a tabloid editor (Hannah Waterman) hungry for a headline.
Much of the plot occurs offstage; you hear about it but you don’t see it.
“In a way it’s kind of like a radio play” is how Lucia Mastrantone describes it. She plays the dual roles of police liaison officer and lawyer. Though the lawyer character effectively has only one big scene, it’s a very significant, revelatory scene and is proving quite a challenge for Mastrantone, mostly because she can’t relate to the motivation, the moral justification of the character.
“What she does is not bad, she actually does something to try and do good…but by doing that she causes terrible carnage,” Mastrantone explains. The role represents a difficult conflict sometimes faced by actors where they can’t quite identify with the actions of their character:
“Trying to find the sort of person that would do what she did…I still haven’t cracked it.”
It’s a complex plot, peppered with humour yet thought provoking. As Mastrantone puts it:
“This does make you look at yourself as part of the machine and it does make you look at what the world is doing around you.”
Until May 20. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney. $79-$101+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyoperahouse.com
By Rita Bratovich.