The Work: Plays

The Journalists

1972, (8w 24m + messengers, subs etc. Doubling)


Setting - A Sunday Newspaper. Theme - journalism as a metaphor for the Lilliputian mentality that denies, diminishes, and leads finally to self-destruction, or self-loathing at best. The time - 70s, covering six days in six different weeks. Monday of the first week, Tuesday of the second week, and so on, a structure within which news events are discussed, and personal lives played out. The story - Mary Mortimer, the central character, a tough journalist with her own column becomes obsessed by a charismatic Labour politician she suspects is a charlatan, and is determined to bring him down. In the process she destroys the life of one of her children. STOP PRESS: Four startling interviews with Tory cabinet ministers punctuate a play written before Margaret Thatcher was voted leader of the Conservative party!


"Write a book? Ha! I can hardly assemble words for these little bits of so-called foreign commentary. Conveyor-belt work, harsh, destructive, written in a hurry. I'm sick of first-class travel and first-class hotels and the quick friendships with people about whom one has finally to write something unsympathetic. Sometimes I think I'm in journalism because I'm unfit for anything else. A book? I'd like to resign."


There's no denying the play's originality of form or richness of content…
Michael Billington, The Guardian