6th November 2023
With a cast and crew numbering twenty-two, the Liverpool University Drama Society (LUDS) production of Ink transports you to a 1969 boardroom. Rupert Murdoch is ruling the roost – queue suits, shouting and story ideas. Ideas fly left and right for The Sun content, with explicit content being a standout. Murdoch has a hold on his colleagues, his rival the Mirror and the audience. From the start, it’s evident he’ll stop at nothing to make The Sun successful.
Ink is a gritty and witty political drama about the controversial rise of The Sun newspaper in 1960/’70s Britain. Illustrating the various moral dilemmas the company encountered in the first years of Rupert Murdoch’s vision, press ethics were left at the door in this political play.
“Ink represents the journey of The Sun from a respectable but poorly selling broadsheet to the tabloid rag we know today. The play by James Graham was amazingly presented by LUDS, with this being the first ever amateur production of the play. Directors Jessica Potts & Sam Baskeyfield and Producer Theo Brown smashed it out of the park, with the final night selling out. We had wonderful stage managers, technical team and an incredible cast. I’m really proud.’’Lewis Thacker who plays Ray Mills
Witty, bold and ruthless, Patrick portrayed Rupert perfectly, with snappy dialogue and heartlessness. He left me in awe, portraying a strong, convincing Australian accent. He showed the audience that Rupert would stop at nothing to raise the success of The Sun. Even if it meant exploiting young girls for explicit content in the process, to make them stand out from the competition, the Mirror.
Murdoch defied the odds, changing the whole trajectory of The Sun. With new editor Larry Lamb, inexperienced photographer Beverly and the explicit content of Stephine Rahn, they shocked the nation.
Stephanie Rahn, a model who succumbs to Murdoch’s explicit tactics, shows the lack of feminist ideals at this time. Despite attempts to stand up for herself, she still agrees to be photographed nude, to increase the popularity of The Sun. Questioning whether Murdoch would be happy if his own daughter had these kinds of photographs taken, Iola’s scenes brought high anticipation, as tensions clashed.
Stephanie changes her name from Rahn near the start of the play, upon advice that it will make it easier for her to get work. Throughout the play, Stephanie not only changes her name but has to change her ideals as well, to fit what Murdoch wants. Iola does a fantastic job of changing her persona throughout the play to fit.
Hypermasculinity is at the forefront for Lewis Thacker’s portrayal of Ray Mills, the sub-editor of The Sun. We see Ray adhering to classic male stereotypes and enjoying drinking and sexual content. He loves nothing more than women’s assets and wants them all over The Sun. A staunch supporter of Murdoch, he knows will bring in an audience.
Lewis used a loud, manly, intimidating voice throughout, best seen through the interrogation scene. Lewis holds him down onto a chair, by the neck of his shirt, yelling and acting with force. This intense scene left me on edge and totally immersed in Lewis’ character.
Ink was performed on the 9th, 10th and 11th of November 2022 by Liverpool University Drama Society (LUDS). For details of their upcoming shows, you can follow them on Instagram at @ludramasociety.
Cover Image from Ink, taken by @jpophotos, used with permission.