Press sets its satirical sights on Hollywood. Greedy producers, shameless awards campaigning and pretentious filmmakers are attacked with gleeful savagery in a script which makes the most of every minute.
The setup is genius. Two smarmy movie producers discover their latest endeavour is in serious danger of becoming a career-long, or even career destroying, embarrassment. Twitter’s endemic species of social justice warriors have discovered that an African-American historical figure was portrayed as white in the film. A flawless awards campaign has resulted in it being a forerunner for the nominations which are due to be announced imminently, but this blessing has speedily become a curse. Afterall, more media attention on the ruinous mistake is the last thing on the wishlists of those involved. This is the cue for David and his colleague, Kate, to frantically try and sabotage any chance of a “Goldie” nomination. They have less than an hour to try and topple all of their perfectly laid plans and ensure the film is buried and forgotten rather than immortalised as an emblem of everything that’s wrong with Hollywood. Thus, the stakes and time-limit are set, and glorious mayhem ensues.
There is something pleasurably wicked in laughing at the self-satisfied producers as they squirm and scrabble their way through a series of increasingly desperate strategies to save their skins. The plot is a little repetitive in the middle, but this is redeemed ten-fold by the masterclass of a twist at the end. Character development, climax and perfect punchline are all wrapped up into a single revelation in the final minutes. It is a moment of exemplary writing from Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller, who also takes on one of the parts.
Both actors have good comedic timing and commit to their roles. Brimmer-Beller simmers with panic and makes restless use of the entire stage space. Rosie Hart, playing opposite him, maintains her composure and slips easily in and out of a perfectly insincere smile when buttering up bigwigs over the phone. Without ever corpsing or loosing focus, the duo appear to enjoy delivering the wittiest lines as much as the audience enjoys hearing them. The punchlines hit their targets with a topicality and humour which completely justifies such enjoyment. It is a joy to spend an hour watching Press.