4 August 2006

Talk Radio

One of the brightest stars of last year's Festival combines with the director of Jerry Springer the Opera and the comic actor who won 2004's Perrier Award - Does it really need to advertise? Probably not but they get a review all the same. Talk Radio is a play written in the early 80s about a now common place shock jock, Barry Champlaine, played by the very energetic Phil Nichol (one of the co-producers). Phil's energy is one of the key ingredients to this show, as too is the quality of his co-stars: the manipulative station director (Mike McShane), his producer who tonight he is at war with (Stephen K. Amos) and the crazy drug fanatic kid Brent (Wil Adamsdale) who a lot of places are reporting steals the show (maybe).

The show is all about the final broadcast before they go national and the pressure, expectation and realisation of what his show, and more importantly himself, is really about. The play is very quick paced and with more than enough energy and variety to keep any easily-distracted viewer happy. When we saw the performance, right at the climax of the show, the most intense moment, someone in the audience started talking to his girlfriend (not I). In character, Phil really laid into him and despite it being improvised, no-one in the audience was sure whether he was off-script and yelling at this guy or simply delivering part of his key monologue. So convincingly in character was Phil Nichol that the audience member turned to his girlfriend *again*, probably to say something like, “didn't it feel like he was really shouting at me”. Phil returned back towards him and let the “pinhead” have it. Apparently the other producers and the cast had quite a heated discussion afterwards, some lining up on the “yeah, go off script if it feels right” and the others screaming out “don't abuse the audience – they won't come back”! How do I know this? I was chatting with Phil the next day and he was relieved to hear that we believed it was all scripted. Jim Lewis Smith (Dutch Elm Conservatoire) is starring with Mike McShane in Marlon Brando's Corset and he confirmed Mike was casually standing alongside Phil (from an actor's point of view rather than a producer).

Anyway, on to a conclusion. The show is pretty good and never bores you at any point. The callers to the radio programme are quite varied and I'm sure with about a week more performing behind him Phil will be back accepting another best actor awards (not bad for a stand up). Four stars out of five and the first “go see” badge awarded so far this year!