by Slade Sohmer

There's a moment toward the Act I break in James Graham's Rupert Murdoch origin story INK when you're forced to stop and think: "Wait, am I rooting for the freakin' villains here?" 

It's 1969, the Australian media magnate has just purchased the struggling Sun newspaper, and the underdogs are comedically and brilliantly flaunting stuffy norms and upending the gatekeeping establishment. It's wildly disconcerting, it's unimaginable through the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, and yet, you can't wait to see how it all plays out. 

Photos: Joan Marcus

Bertie Carvel could play Murdoch as a Mr. Burns-esque caricature, but the Olivier-winning actor instead pitch-perfectly plays a millionaire still figuring out exactly how to throw all morality in the trash on his way to unscrupulous billionaire status. Murdoch's story unfolds mainly through Jonny Lee Miller's excellent portrayal of Larry Lamb, the semi-exiled Northerner who returns to London's Fleet Street to seek revenge on his former boys club bosses at the Daily Mirror by perfecting the populist tabloid that Hugh Cudlipp created. 

Graham's cleverly orchestrated, well-paced play eventually asks the most important question: What price are the Act I underdogs willing to pay to bring the establishment to its knees and create the ultimate people's paper? And, through it, we get our answer as to how how the modern media became a race to the bottom and how Rupert Murdoch became the man we all know him to be.