Hitting us hard with the buzz-phrase of the year, Osman Baig in association with Paragon Theatre Collective presents us with a story of Fake News in this one-of-a-kind one-man show.
The first thing to note about Fake News is that it’s odd. It’s odd right from the outset with its theme music and video introduction sequence. It continues to be odd as Baig bounds onstage and welcomes us to his introductory seminar for interns at The Millenial Times. Needless to say that interspersed with soundbites, a full frame story, and visual backdrop sequences as it is, there is no point at which this becomes less odd.
And odd is often good in this kind of setting. It takes a particular kind of performance to keep energy and narrative with a just one onstage artist and while it’s not often that I’ve seen the use of such mixed media techniques, it’s a good idea and certainly breaks things up.
One-man shows are a varied bunch but there’s typically one thing they do have in common; an energetic and engaging performer. Fake News is no exception to this and Baig delivers in droves. There’s no doubt that, for me, the performance was the star of the show.
Not that it’s not an interesting story; the tale of a young media intern looking to make his fortune and uncover a huge breaking story – with disastrous yet ultimately fine consequences – is a perfectly sound one.
However, in this case, it felt like the story was interrupting itself with titbits of other tales.
Hints were made at some dissent within the workplace (possibly racially motivated), also linked to Baig’s character’s background and the pressure from his family. Perfectly solid stuff but never quite linked to the main story. Or at least not in a way I could see.
Equally, the overall moral of the story; stop distrusting the media, it’s there to help you and is made up of normal decent people – is if not undermined then overshadowed somewhat by the main character having made a huge error and been rewarded with several promotions and a place in history. A little incongruous.
That being said, it’s a relatable workplace and the picture we’re painted is vivid, people do make mistakes and end up being promoted and, while exaggerated, I could swear I’ve worked with people exactly like those we were presented with.
It’s an interesting concept and it’s certainly entertaining, let down a little on some of the fine detail it remains a good job in a tough genre.
We are welcomed in a manner akin to a seminar – bit of a tough sell but I liked the ingenuity of it but only at the end do we return to that style. Used to tie the beginning and end together it’s never used in a way that ties the whole piece together. I would have liked to see this unusual concept seen through fully to really give the piece an edge but with Baig at the helm, Fake News offers an entertaining evening through all the style and story shifts.
Review by Damien Russell
A young journalist lands a dream internship at the country’s biggest online news company. But a few months into the role – in a hasty bid to find a major scoop that will go viral – he inadvertently publishes a catastrophic error that risks unhinging his entire career. Is he about to lose it all – or is there no such thing as bad publicity Fake News is the very real story of how our media is created and how it’s responding to the extraordinary times we live in.
This five-star show, described as “Funny, original and thought-provoking” (London Theatre Reviews) & “Sharp-witted and expertly crafted” (Entertainment Focus) is told by actor, writer and journalist Osman Baig, who brings unparalleled insight from his decade-long career at some of the world’s biggest news organisations. “One-man shows are rarely as engaging as Baig’s colourful rollercoaster ride” (South West Londoner).
This is the story you don’t want to miss.
23 – 28 October 2018
Paragon Theatre Collective present
by Osman Baig