Long Story Short is a visual storytelling play about different aspects of journalism and news: the scandal, the fierce competitive nature that can take place, social media and its effect on our society.
The play merges two different stories. The first story covers the tale of a young Australian business man who arrives in to London, with huge ambition, who plans to shake up the British press, wanting to give it an overhaul and to break stories that no other newspaper or journalist team can. Who else could this person be? None other than the man we now know as Rupert Murdoch. Fast forward a few decades and we can all know the huge impact that the man has made and continues to make in the media world (although no longer thanks to the News of the World, which of course is now defunct thanks to all its scandals and phone-hacking saga). We have all seen the phenomenal success, and whether you admired what he did or not (and we know that he has upset a lot of people along the way!), no one can take away his determination and the guts he had to succeed in the cut-throat business of modern day journalism and reporting as we know it. As they visit ‘Fleet Street’ in the play, this is clearly shown.
The other story in the show focuses on a young man who seems to innocently post a photo on Twitter about his missing brother and the war in Afghanistan – yet appears with a member of royalty, only to see that the photo gets taken out of context, goes viral and out of control, with reporters and news journalists running away with the photo and story, causing chaos. Again, this focuses on the modern-day obsession with social media and the way in which anyone can connect to the wider world, via a medium of 140 characters and a ‘tweet’ button.
The show captures the stress of a modern newsroom, the stereotypical one-dimensional journalist whose only interest is in breaking a story first. At times, this makes for uncomfortable viewing. As a viewer, this was not pleasant to watch, as there was too much tension, but this was a continuous theme from start to finish. A part of the show that broke the story up was where the cast, as commuters, danced across the stage with wide-spread umbrellas in slow motion with a few songs thrown in to lift the spirits on what was a rather gloomy show. It broke the monotony of the repeated pulsing unnecessary sound which filtered all the way through the show. A variation in sound would have been greatly accepted. Not only did this grate, but the volume could have been turned down several notches. If the shouting in the newsroom wasn’t enough to give one a slight headache, this sure was going to right way to add to it further.
We can’t fault the research that went in to the play, or the quality of the actors, who all gave a good performance. But we felt as though for the 90 minutes that it ran for, it unfortunately seemed to drag. It would have been nice to see some joy at least in the show or something to make it come more alive, to break up the continuous tension felt whilst watching, and the music in the play needs an overhaul, to stop people leaving with a tension headache.