JOYCE MCMILLAN on FISHWRAP at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 15.2.14. ________________________________________________________
3 stars ***
IN AN AGE OF crisis for the newspaper industry – with traditional economic models crashing about our ears, and the world of news moving online – there’s something both alarming and touching about a play like Fishwrap, Kieran Lynn’s short epic drama about one young woman’s journey through modern journalism. Playing at Oran Mor until today, and at the Gaiety Theatre, Ayr, next week, Fishwrap tells the tale of Caroline, a bright young journalism graduate who seizes the chance to take over a failing local newspaper in Clackmannanshire, and to try to inject some life into its circulation figures by the time-honoured methods of sexing up, and dumbing down.
In Clackmannanshire, though, Caroline meets Thomas, the ex-editor she is replacing, a devastatingly handsome and principled guy – played very convincingly by Ben Clifford – who believes in old fashioned news values, and in using journalism to expose the abuse of power; and when the ghastly Polly St. James arrives from Head Office for an inspection visit, the plot reaches a crisis. The script is fast-moving, well-made, and just a shade naive; Thomas and Caroline are saved, in the end, when he receives a major job offer from The Scotsman. Fishwrap is a brisk, heartfelt play, though, about an important subject. And with Helen McKay and Louise Ludgate throwing in a pair of well-judged performances as Caroline and the dreadful Polly, the very caricature of a wicked newspaper lady, there’s plenty to enjoy in Fishwrap, and plenty to ponder, too.