TV Review: Press (BBC1)

Mike Bartlett’s Press has a fantastic company and big ambitions but is probably best enjoyed as feisty entertainment than an accurate portrayal of the world of journalism

“We do it through the most outrageous storytelling in the world, not statistics”

A lot of the chat around Mike Bartlett’s new series Press, as written by journalists at least, was around how the show fails to represent life at a contemporary newspaper in an accurate manner. So I hasten to remind us all, as if it were really necessary, that Press is a drama and not a documentary, and that dramatic license and a real, and frankly essential, thing.

Soapbox done, this six parter is an interesting if simplistic look at duelling newsroom as it follows the teams at Sun-a-like The Post and Guardian-a-like The Herald as they follow stories, set the news agenda and battle for the very soul of journalism. It’s all highly watchable in a popcorn-munching kind of way but – perhaps ironically given my first paragraph – the shadow of the real world occasionally looms a little too large.  Continue reading “TV Review: Press (BBC1)”

12 Days of Christmas – Black Mirror Christmas

“So thanks to you, some dork meets a girl, not much of a Christmas story…”

On the sixth day of Christmas, Black Mirror also gave to me…only bloody Jon Hamm!

Well this was a White Christmas but necessarily like the ones you used to know. Black Mirror’s 2014 Christmas special saw writer Charlie Brooker go feature length and director Carl Tibbetts get crazy fortuitous as Jon Hamm just declared his love for the series and his interest in appearing in it one way or another, the result being this interlinked triptych of stories, combining as ever to chilling effect.

Hamm plays Matt, a man working in some unspecified remote location and sharing a cabin with Rafe Spall’s Joe. They’ve been living together for five years without really communicating but this particular morning, Joe wakes up to Matt making Christmas dinner, determined to get the story of how he ended up in this isolated place. And sure enough, it is a tale of human exploitation of technological advancement. Continue reading “12 Days of Christmas – Black Mirror Christmas”

Review: Hostage Song, Finborough Theatre

“Why won’t God deliver me, oh I may never know”

You don’t get many hostage stories in musical theatre so the allure of the Finborough’s Hostage Song was one that proved intriguingly strong, sufficiently so to overcome my natural antipathy to anything that describes itself as an indie rock musical. But though the band onstage is full of boys dressed in black who look like they need a pie, the music of composer and lyricist Kyle Jarrow, in conjunction with Clay McLeod Chapman’s abstract book, makes for a pleasingly different piece of musical theatre.

In an unspecified country (albeit one which has experienced some kind of US military intervention), reporter Jennifer and Pentagon contractor Jim have been blindfolded, handcuffed and kept prisoner by unseen captors. To pass the time and to help try and keep a hold on their sanity, they play games of I-Spy, tell stories of their lives in flashbacks (and forwards), even go on pretend dates to help keep spirits up. Chapman’s book shudders around this timeframe with a hallucinatory energy that always keeps us on our toes and thus makes the amplified indie rock seem a more appropriate choice. Continue reading “Review: Hostage Song, Finborough Theatre”