The title of this play stands for Not Safe For Work, a form of internet slang, which loosely means online material that you wouldn’t want to be caught looking at. The first half is set in the office of Aidan, the editor for the magazine Doghouse, which prides itself on publishing pictures of women’s breasts to attract their readers. A catastrophe occurs when it’s discovered that a young writer Sam unknowingly used images of a 14-year-old girls breasts for the front of the magazines cover. Her father immediately wishes to sue and Aidan is forced to fire Sam. The final scene is a lengthily interview that occurs between impoverished Sam and sassy yet sharp Miranda, who is editor of the glossy women’s magazine Electra.
The play speeds along and ends all to fast after just 90 minutes long, leaving the audience just slightly confused as to why Sam is being made to circle the beauty flaws in seemingly ‘perfect’ women. Nevertheless it does give us a juicy taste of what might be going on behind the publication of certain magazines.
Lucy Kirkwood’s new play accurately looks at two similar types of magazine that are led by alternative members of sex. It’s funny, accurate and oddly topical, though I don’t think Kirkwood knew quite how much when she wrote it. It shows that underneath everything money is a powerful driving force, driving a father to sacrifice his principles and Sam to eventually submit to Miranda’s patronising demand.
As always at the Royal Court the set was impressively designed, first as the boyish Doghouse office, then the pristinely white and immaculately clean editorial office at Electra.
The acting was brilliant. Julian Barratt as Aidan swells with power and swaggers with sexual confidence. Janie Dee likewise oozes sexual poise, particularly in her tightly fitted black dress with a significant cleavage. Both dominate over the naïve and desperate Sam, played by Sacha Dhawan, who adds delicacy to his role from the start, allowing audiences to feel especially sorry for him.
The supporting cast impressively add to the humour and drama of the play, a particular favourite moment of mine being when Henry Lloyd-Hughes comes out dressed as Margaret Thatcher.
I found the play comical and thought provoking, as it raised some valid cracks in the media world. Kirkwood has created an easily enjoyable play that will remain topical for a few more years to come.