It is a premise we are very familiar with when Jonathan Biggin’s play TALK at The Playhouse has a shock-jock outing the criminal record of an alleged sex offender. While a short spell at Her Majesty’s pleasure was the outcome for that shock-jock, now serving Her Majesty in the big house on the hill, this story had commercial radio star John Behan ( John Waters) locking himself in his studio when the police arrived. The trial was aborted, and Behan was in contempt of court but hopes of arresting Behan got lost in the roundabout of a media circus as Behan keeps broadcasting.
The three ring circus of radio, respected public broadcaster and a newspaper each approach the whole shebang from different perspectives as the focus circles from old school journalist Taffy Campbell(Peter Kowitz) and his new social media savvy offsider at the public broadcaster, to the acting editor of a dying major newspaper with massive sacking imminent, ensconced in the way too neat, white and sterile editor’s office to Behan in his studio as his loyal staff cope with the feisty police media liaison officer with attitude, police officers plodding on and the purported inability of the station manager to pull the plug on their star.
The set is perfect for this three way circus. Two levels with the shock-jock on high, the public broadcaster and the newspaper below as a rotation of scenes between the players keeps you on edge to the reality of today’s media and how they deal with this subject. It is fascinating reflection on the 24/7 news we are plugged into and ultimately unsatisfactory.
TALK, has so much to love and despair in a reflection of the demise of the good old days when journalists got off their bums and followed the story, checked their sources and corroborated their stories, when facts were more important than opinions and celebrity was confined to the social pages.
Real ‘old school’ journalists were among the audience for opening night, and sipping their after show drinks reflected on what TALK implied for the current state of play in our local media scene.
Jonathan Biggins, writer and director raised a glass in a toast to Fairfax in jest. We were left wondering where and what ‘media’ will be in the very foreseeable future.
It was a sobering finale.