Making News is one of the most hotly anticipated new plays at Fringe this year, from the authors of 2012's Coalition, Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky.
Set in the heart of the BBC's News department, the play centres on Rachel Clarke (Suki Webster), newly promoted to the Acting-Acting Head Of News and faced with a BBC scandal; the Director General (Phill Jupitus) may or may not have been fraudulently funding a cult with the corporation's money.
Well, what a load of tedious rubbish. The play itself is long-winded, self-indulgent and lazy. The satire is flat and often quite awkward, packed with obscure references, and the characters are all terribly one-dimensional.
The direction (again by Salinsky), if indeed it could be called direction, is bizarre and unintelligent. Some of the staging blocks performers completely (a moment in a dressing room places a mirror directly in front of poor Hal Cruttenden's face, for example), the video design and implementation is juddery and of poor quality, the transitions leave the actors scurrying around like confused rabbits, and the lighting is atrociously operated, if well designed by Paul Foxcroft.
The production sustains absolutely no tension or belief in the characters or the narrative, and one can't help but feel sorry for these wonderful comedians fighting for laughs in such a flaccid piece.
That being said, Webster, Sara Pascoe, Dan Starkey and Liam Williams are poor here. Lines and cues are missed regularly by all four, all are monotonal, have no sense of rhythm or timing, and present no depth of character.
The only redeeming factors in this production are the glorious performances by Cruttenden and Jupitus. These two comedians are incredible, with pitch-perfect tone, commitment and absolute energy throughout. For me, they induced my only laughs and I could have watched those two for hours.
But ultimately this is a shoddy piece of work, and having started a whopping 20 minutes late, shines out as a classic example of star-driven work not fit for the Fringe.
- Chris Snow
Making News continues at the Pleasance Courtyard until 25 August