Ginger Hibiscus | Review of Long Story Short at the Charing Cross Theatre in London by Ginger Hibiscus
Review of Long Story Short at the Charing Cross Theatre in London by Ginger Hibiscus
Review of Long Story Short at the Charing Cross Theatre in London by Ginger Hibiscus
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19 Sep REVIEW: Long Story Short at the Charing Cross Theatre

In a world that’s been undergoing gradual globalisation for hundreds of years, the 21st century has heralded unprecedented technological innovation, which in turn has led to unprecedented changes in the ways we live our lives. The Earth has become a global marketplace, zigzagged by flightpaths, with the internet letting us socialise, date and shop, all online. We can Skype friends on the other side of the world on a whim, broadcast our opinions, or even post videos of ourselves drenched in ice cold water.

In the middle of this multimedia milieu, Long Story Short looks at the evolving art of reporting the news, as it advances out of the editorial rooms of Fleet Street and into to the palms of individuals. Everyone has an opinion, and however unsavoury that opinion might be, a platform exists to broadcast it. The show opens to hordes of semi-anonymous Tweeps venting their habitual outrage, dismissing and condemning traditional journalism with varying degrees of eloquence. But what’s provoked this fresh round of outrage? If you were to tweet about it, which camp would you be in?

Set in the information age, the play gives us the on-demand data and immediate gratification we’ve grown accustomed to. From our comfortable seats we’re thrown between Afghanistan, Australia and England, catching all of the action without prolonged exposition or slow scene changes, just as we might by flicking through satellite news channels, or scanning a Twitter feed. We switch between continents and decades instantaneously, as different stories are told in parallel on stage, by the same outstanding cast of eight. Each is immediately contextualised and differentiated from the others through great lighting design by Aaron J Dootson, and the way the cast flit between characters so seamlessly.

The embodiment of numerous characters is reinforced through quite frankly phenomenal movement direction by Kane Husbands. Whilst a creative rather than cast member, Husbands is arguably the star of the show; his imaginative and unusual direction locks us firmly in the present, grabs us, intrigues us, and above all transforms the ensemble into the scenery, deliriously dynamic and responsive – just like the screen of your smartphone. In this complex production, the sound overlays it all; gorgeous composition from Rhys Lewis with sound design from Jay Jones and Chris Tarren, the team create the sound of the internet – and who knew the web has a “sound”?! More specifically, a sound that can only be described as a technologically advanced Latin American pulse, as catchy as the most infectious of malwares.

We are treated to a moment of particular genius as a news anchor presents the evening news. When the focus shifts for a moment, without wearing a microphone to be turned down, she quietens but continues absolutely seamlessly, all with just her vocal chords, her face unchanged, tone unchanged, and no indication that she’s aware of the change in attention. It’s a small and simple thing, but it’s the accumulation of so many details like this that give Long Story Short the wow-factor.

The attention to detail is incredibly strong, and flows throughout the production. It’s picked up in flawless dialects from Kevin Phelan as Red and Cole Edwards as Jamie, in stillness like I’ve never seen before and more generally in the brilliant execution of the movement, the script and direction by the entire cast. Comprising Tom Gordon, Eva-Jane Willis, Cliodhna McCorley, Fern McCauley, Sam Jenkins-Shaw and Louisa Roberts as well as Phelan and Edwards, they are unanimously talented, and rehearsed and timed to perfection. The result is a slick, polished production where every movement is deliberate.

High-octane from start to finish, momentum builds from curtain up to curtain down, with no interval to break the impetus. We’re thrown into editorial rooms, experience anxiety and grief, travel business class and serve on the front line, in the fastest hour and three quarters of your life. Compelling from the very first moment, Long Story Short points a lens at the way we create and consume news, at the relationship between the press with the internet, and at the question of context. Relevant, engaging and beautifully executed, this is a definite must-see.

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Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
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