Sean O’Shea opens David Williamson’s play “Rupert” with a riff on Rupert Murdoch’s Twitter account. “#howgoodami” O’Shea announces, after pretending to tweet about audience attendance at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center Thursday night. It’s the kind of moment that could seem like a desperate lurch toward hipness, but it’s really a signal that the play means to provide you with the same unmediated Murdoch that we usually get only 140 characters at a time.
Guy Edmonds plays “Young Rupert” from an indifferent student with a bust of Lenin on his windowsill to a world-straddling media baron to a man white-knuckling his grip on an empire amid scandals, dueling heirs and expensive divorces.
- Sean O’Shea as Rupert (Jeff Busby/courtesy Kennedy Center)
The story, of course, unfolds at the direction of O’Shea’s Rupert, who constantly manipulates the action. He pauses other players with a remote control, hams it up in the background as Edmonds dances around or tramples over ethical lines, offers asides to the audience that Frank Underwood would admire. “Good patriotic Americans wept with relief!” he proclaims, half-seriously, about the launch of Fox News.
There’s always another tale skulking about outside Rupert’s careful frame, however. He might see himself as a guy who prospered due to grit, will and luck, always finding an escape hatch into a treasure room, but other characters offer a counter-narrative, sometimes just by standing nearby and yelling at him, like Guardian readers who won some sort of contest.… Read more