The cut and thrust of the newspaper industry makes damning headlines in the return of Farine Clarke’s award-winning satire, London Zoo, at the Bread & Roses Theatre, Clapham, next month.
The pacy parody whose five-night sell-out inaugural run last year earned two major awards and wowed audiences, builds on its earlier success with a longer run, a new director – Catriona Clancy – a revised cast and fresh set.
Enter the hysterical world of manipulation, secrecy, insincerity and the subtleties of prejudicial layers.
It’s the dawn of the new millennium; print newspapers are in crisis as the world adopts electronic media. Arabella, a successful director, has drive, the ability to manage ‘pesky’ creatives and a talent for profit.
Together with gentle accountant Charles, she is charged by bullish CEO, Alex and his conniving sidekick, Christian, to acquire a thriving title, The Daily Word.
Its success is due to the publisher, Kelvin, who happens to be black and therefore a rarity in this senior role at this time.
Kelvin believes in investing in creativity, editorial integrity and quality to create profit – ‘fluffy’ drivers which Alex rejects in favour of his ‘slash and burn’ strategy.
Sunil is a refined Asian ‘senior man’, who has engineered himself into a perfect fit. His civilised poise belies his innate racism.
In London Zoo, as in life, prejudice is not simply black and white. Arabella realises the ruthlessness required for success this time will also destroy their most valuable assets; her gifts become a curse.
Charles too begins to see that his faith is misplaced. Only insightful Kelvin is prepared for, and resigned to, the inevitable unfairness.
Against this choppy mutability, the wild final act sees the characters having a stab at changing the status quo and we learn that pain is not always felt at the site of the wound.
It’s being staged by UnEqual Productions, founded by former GP and magazine publisher, Farine, last year to provide a voice for a series of contemporary, cutting edge plays which are of their time and serve a purpose.
London Zoo leaves you to decide where madness really lies on mankind’s behavioural scale.
Her first two plays – London Zoo and The Story of Friends – held rehearsed readings on Zoom during lockdown in 2021, to a fantastic response.
London Zoo runs from August 23 – September 3 at the Bread & Roses Theatre, Clapham Manor Road, SW4.