Life And Death Of A Journalist
Cage – The Vaults
Reviewed – 29th February 2020
“a play that could be extremely good, but is currently only good in parts”
Life and Death of a Journalist centres on Laura, a journalist who has just returned to London from covering the Hong Kong riots. There is an important story to tell here, a story of one woman’s struggle to tell the truth in the face of immense pressure, of whether it’s right to compromise sometimes, in the hope of getting what you want and for the greater good, and the story of what’s been happening in Hong Kong recently. Laura is played by Lucy Roslyn, with engaging strength and conviction. She is a magnetic actor, immediately charming the audience and holding this sometimes creaky play together.
Melissa Woodbridge plays Vicky, the editor of an independent paper who offers Laura a job, promising her freedom to write about what she believes in. She is professional, spiky and manipulative, but also warm and attractive, as she gets what she wants from Laura and from her own career. But has Laura been right to trust her?
The other pull on Laura is her boyfriend Mark. Robert Bradley is relatable and rather sweet in the role, but sometimes hampered by clunky dialogue. Who asks their girlfriend, in the heat of a row, where they see their relationship in five year’s time? It sounded like a belligerent job interview, not a relationship.
So there is the narrative of Laura’s determination to be an honest journalist and fight for justice in Hong Kong, a place she loves, and the narrative of her relationship issues. At times this works really well, and Laura’s conflict between these two parts of her life escalates nicely. But the writing doesn’t always help. Much of it is good, but some moments jar. On hearing that Mark’s father has died Laura’s response is ‘let’s get married. let’s have kids.’ It’s out of the blue, off piste and unbelievable. At times it feels like a lecture too, as though the writer, Jingan Young, is using her characters as a mouthpiece, rather than allowing points to be made organically, through credible natural dialogue and action.
Harry Blake’s sound, and lighting by Anna Reddyhoff, work well with the set. Some upended chairs, a couple of barricades and protest posters effectively evoke the riots and become the newspaper office, the streets of Hong Kong, a bar and Laura and Mark’s home.
This is a play that could be extremely good, but is currently only good in parts. Max Lindsay’s direction is not quite consistent, and the ending is just odd. I hope it gets a bit of a rewrite, because it’s full of potential.
Reviewed by Katre