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Dark Tourism review at London’s Park Theatre – ‘tightly crafted satire’

Huw Parmenter and Tom Maller in Dark Tourism at the Park Theatre. Photo: Oli Sones Huw Parmenter and Tom Maller in Dark Tourism at the Park Theatre. Photo: Oli Sones
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Receiving its world premiere, Dark Tourism is a tightly crafted satire illustrating the machinations of a high-end public relations company. Radio DJ Milton Rose overshares some sexual exploits on air, the tabloids go into meltdown and Plush PR are on hand to control the spin. Manipulating the press and influencing public opinion, PR executives Richard Powell and Max Stafford think they have everything under control, but fame and celebrity are highly prized commodities that their ruthless clientele will stop at nothing to achieve.

Dingsdale’s first full-length play may not break any new ground contextually, but it demonstrates a sharp ear for dialogue and a strong sense of character direction. Even amid the effluence of tabloid gossip, revenge porn and damage control, Dingsdale still manages to make his characters vaguely three-dimensional and occasionally sympathetic.

Ambitious writing is matched by bold performances here, particularly from Tamaryn Payne as the vacuous Gemma Stone and Jill Winternitz as the actor with the hidden agenda. Huw Parmenter’s posturing Milton possibly owes a debt to Russell Brand and Damien Lyne offers the rational side of spin as PR guru Richard Powell. Dingsdale’s own turn as the highly-strung Max Stafford is passionate, if a little distorted in places, although he has many of the best lines in this most quotable of premieres.

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A promising first play featuring some great dialogue but treading over well-worn territory