News Of The World
Play by Alex Jones.
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New Birmingham Theatre Company, April-May 1995.
Not for the faint hearted, this dark shocking comedy takes a load of tabloid stories from the gutter press and stitches them all together into an adult black comedy.
A naive and shy young man, who has decided that his physique is his only asset, answers an advertisement for a nude model and finds himself in the ingratiating clutches of a gay photographer whose principal interest, we soon gather, may not be art.
As events move towards an unseemly climax, the photographer's lesbian wife intervenes - when the door is kicked in by Inspector Ogden and his psychopathic sidekick, Sergeant Pearce, a break neck journey of sickness and perversion unfolds, and just about every sexual stereotype and sexual act is explored as the play pillories newspapers that delight in presenting lurid stories in a seeming guise of public shock and concern.
Murder, rape, incest, police corruption, don't bother buying a paper it's all here.
New Birmingham Theatre Company, April-May 1995.
Alex Jones, the actor and playwright whose play for young people, Mickey And Me, was toured by the Rep last year, has now written an adult black comedy which is more black than comic. A naive and shy young man, who has decided that his physique is his only asset, answers an advertisement for a nude model and finds himself in the ingratiating clutches of a gay photographer whose principal interest, we soon gather, may not be art. As events move towards an unseemly climax, enter abruptly the photographer's lesbian wife - followed immediately before the interval by the vice squad. This, of course is Joe Orton territory. But whereas Orton's policemen are corrupt buffoons, Mr Jones presents us with a couple of out-and-out psychopaths. Inspector Ogden, in David Vann's eye-popping performance; is a creature of nightmare - the embodiment of unbridled authority running amok on lines of twisted logic. Disconcertingly cynical, the play is also very well written. It is also extremely well performed by the strongest cast yet assembled by New Birmingham Theatre Company. This ends the company's second season of new plays at the City Tavern. Audiences appear to be building and the company deserves support from anyone interested in Birmingham's developing theatre scene.
- Terry Grimley
Birmingham Evening Mail:
Shot in the arm for pub land - A brand new play, which is absurdly funny and yet unpleasantly worrying, enhances the reputation of this vibrant company. The unpossessing subject - a photographer who ensnares young men and uses his lesbian wife as bait - proves in the hands of author Alex Jones and an excellent cast to be outrageously amusing. Derek Lewis (the photographer) and Richard da Costa, as the young man, progress their relationship with a joyous implacability until the plausible rogue persuades his hilariously panicking victim into a Grecian pose involving pink frilly knickers. The harder edge of the second half is due entirely to David Vann's superb study of the sadistic simmering sexuality of the police inspector, backed by David Perks' brutal sergeant. Judith Poulter is the woman whose vengeful dominance disappears, as she becomes a victim of an out-of-control situation. Louise Papillon's production is quirky, compelling stuff - a real shot in the arm for pub theatre in Birmingham. It continues until May 6.
- John Slim.
Walsall News/Weekly Observer:
Bleakly comic journey into the human psyche - The bleakly comic journey into the murkiest corners of the human psyche - the last production in New Birmingham Theatre's Spring season at the City Tavern is not for the faint-hearted. Black Country playwright Alex Jones has taken stories from the Sunday newspaper of the same name as his inspiration for the exploration of sexual depravity and abuse of power and trust. Hapless Darren Strange's quest to "be someone" leads him to the home of Ronnie Dysart - a 'renowned' photographer who wins the man's trust by promising a top modeling career. First though, he must cast off his inhibitions and place his trust in Ronnie's experience. Richard da Costa gives a fine portrayal of injured innocence as Darren, while Derek Lewis is wonderful as the camp, scheming Ronnie. The vile Inspector Ogden takes centre stage in the later action, his maniacal corruption well depicted by David Vann, as all order breaks down and the characters sinks into nihilistic mire. Perhaps Lewis has strived for too much in the second half of the play, after the subtlety and careful development of the first. No stone is left unturned in a break-neck tour of human vice and prejudice, and, while the intention is to shock totally, the lighter humour of the first act is missed. It's thought-provoking cat-and-mouse, followed by all-out anarchy, skilfully handled by director Louise Papillon.
- David Disley-Jones.