The Fitzrovia Radio Hour, Trafalgar Studios, London
Tuesday 18 January 2011
The new show from this troupe of bright young things brings forth three more pastiches of 1940s radio plays, each cut in half and served up on rotation and each accompanied by the sight of sound effects being created using a range of objects including mallets, cabbages doorknobs, crisps and a pair of rubber gloves doubling as bats.
"Undead Queen of Evil!", a horror story about an undead leader of a lost civilisation, "Captain Fasthand and the Rooty Gong", where British and German soldiers race for treasure in 1945 India and "He Should Have Known His Place", the downfall of a working-class Leeds man who is criticised for reaching beyond his status but is a victim of conspiracy, are tonight's simulated blasts from Britain's imperial and class-structured past. These two-act plays are run in a mirror image order [1,2,3 then second halves as 3,2,1] and sandwiched between their halves go adverts for a pharmaceutical remedy that has a definite echo of a range of contemporary recreational drugs.
The authentic feel of all this is something of a hurdle for the comedy as the tight narrative of these well-honed yarns affords too little opportunity to goof around; in fact, almost none in "He Should Have Known His Place". "Rooty Gong" and "Undead Queen of Evil!" offer more caper-some opportunities and in "Rooty Gong" this is done with some camp German soldiers straight out of 'Allo 'Allo'. In "Undead Queen of Evil!", a joke about one character unable to learn that ancient tombs are called sarcophagus is the repeated motif.
This is a disappointing outing from this smart outfit. Newcomers to the Fitzrovians will be impressed with the sound effects and vocal dexterity of the cast, and rightly so, but this is set against diminishing returns for their dashing and derring-do.
To 5 February (0844 871 7632); then touring ( fitzroviaradio.com)
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