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Review: 2 Radio Plays at the Nash Theatre

By Josie Montano & Robert McLachlan

Nash Theatre’s first production for 2019 delivered a Double Bill of Radio Plays based on the works of Sr Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie.

In the first play The Adventure of the Irregular Client, we are introduced to Sherlock Holmes as he investigates a series of cold blooded murders. The second play The ABC Murders, we follow a mild-mannered character whose initials ABC are stamped all over his belongings and the connection with a series of murders that are alphabetically orchestrated.

These plays seem authentic to the Golden age of radio, where this technology was the enabler for important broadcasts of its time. A radio play, also known as radio drama is purely an acoustic performance, with no visual component. In this day and age where we are visually fed, it was a nice change and switch to auditory – we closed our eyes, listened and imagined the characters and settings, not unlike your childhood and having a book read to you. It was easy to see how Orson Welles’ The War of The Worlds radio play convinced listeners who tuned in eighty years ago that the Martians were invading.

In this setting the dialogue, music and sound effects become all important to the actors and audience, and are integral for delivery of the story. The Nash theatre performers managed to convey the action and suspense of both these mysteries with aplomb. This was a trip down nostalgia lane for Director, Hazel Mepham who as a child recalls gathering around the radio with her family.

The Players were dressed in their finest - women ‘to the nines’ and men in dinner jackets and bow-ties. The set was simple yet effective as expected for a radio play. A sound desk beside the stage with an array of sound effect props formed an integral part of each performance. Tim Oxley, played an important role of sound technician as he created gunshots by popping balloons, rattled beads of pearls into the microphone, etc. As the audience, we played the role of radio station gallery as the players read and performed at the microphones. We cheered on cue to the APPLAUSE light, and kept silent when prompted by the ON AIR sign.

Authenticity was maintained by undertaking American and British accents as required by the scripts. The comedic relief of the evening was the Announcer John Scandurra, who delivered intermittent commercials adorned in a white dinner jacket and red velvet bow tie, true to the times as he sipped from his glass of red while advertising Californian wines.

We thought that the second play, The ABC Murders was the more entertaining of the two as it was fast-paced and true to Agatha Christie’s style. This was an evening which provided two good suspenseful whodunits, where solving the crimes before the detectives becomes the challenge for the audience.

Undertaking a revival of radio plays is a refreshing approach to theatre in Brisbane.

Photos Supplied by Josie Montano & Robert McLachlan

All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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