Talk Radio, Old Red Lion Theatre

by an anonymous guest critic

First produced off-Broadway in 1987, Eric Bogosian’s brilliant drama has finally been produced in London for the first time by Covent Garden Productions and the Old Red Lion Theatre.

The set (which fits the space at the Old Red Lion perfectly) is the sound booth for talk radio host Barry Champlain (Matthew Jure). We are in Cleveland, Ohio where Champlain’s show is a big hit about to be nationally syndicated. Surrounding the booth are the office area where we get to observe Champlains’ Producer Linda (Molly McNerney) and his Assistant Stu (George Turvey) working at close quarters.

Champlain’s style of radio involves long discussions with people calling in late at night, often antagonising them in order to keep it entertaining. We hear calls from a cross section of American society: the desperate and lonely, the religious and the fanatically right wing (in one of the plays most tense scenes, Champlain receives a potentially explosive package delivery from a Nazi fanatic whom he has been goading on air).

This is a particularly topical play to see right now as it shows the origins of how people use social media; people use it to express emotions based on anger and emotion rather than reason. More importantly though, this is an excellent production which has fantastic period detail in the set, has been really carefully and skillfully directed by Sean Turner and has a first rate cast. As Champlain, Matthew Jure does an excellent job of showing a man who is a mixture of arrogance, narcissism and massive insecurity. Also, a special mention goes to Ceallach Spellman for his brilliant performance as a caller who eventually joins Champlain in his studio for a live recording. The interactions between these two characters are some of the funniest in the play.

So if you want a really entertaining night out at a cool, intimate theatre space then I can’t
recommend Talk Radio enough. Five Stars.

Talk Radio runs through 23 September.

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