Andrew May, a twenty-nine-year-old newspaper writer and editor who, in a short period of time, shoots up to the top of his field and as quickly falls as a protégé of tycoon Lambert Le Roux. When the play opens, Andrew is fresh, in love with newspaper work, and reasonably idealistic, learning the journalist’s craft at the provincial Leicester Bystander, at which he is unexpectedly promoted to editor-in-chief by the paper’s new owner, the capricious Le Roux. As he moves up in the Le Roux organization, he becomes a willing tool, shutting his eyes to Le Roux’s excesses but still trying to hold on to the shreds of his integrity. When his conscience brings him to assert himself hesitantly against the millionaire, he finds his success at an end. The plot centers on the tarnishing of his character and the breaking of his moral fiber under the influence of his employer, so that by the end he goes to Le Roux beaten, begging for a job on a scandal sheet.
Lambert Le Roux
Lambert Le Roux, a heavy South African millionaire in his late forties, whose building of a British media empire the play chronicles. He is completely without scruples, wrecking lives by haphazardly firing staff, corrupting politicians, and debasing the public taste. As the owner of hotels, restaurants, and clothing firms, he is a supreme manipulator whose joviality and urbanity hide savagery. He glosses his predatory exercise of power with a warmed-over existentialism, talking of his insignificance in the face of impassive nature. In a sense, he is a rebellious parvenu whose wealth gives him the ability to degrade established British institutions, such as the newspaper Victory, that look down on him. In another sense, he is a business anarchist, because his decisions are often impulsive and willful rather than based on bottom-line calculations. His gigantic fortune papers over his faults and lapses.
Rebecca Foley, the daughter of Sir Stamford Foley, later the wife of Andrew May. She is a recently graduated schoolteacher. She is idealistic enough to have her faith in her father hurt by his shabby treatment of his employees. She is happy about, though wary of, her husband’s...
(The entire section is 926 words.)