Observations: Roaring Forties blow into town
Friday 29 May 2009
While most of the UK gears up for tomorrow's televised final of Britain's Got Talent, spare a thought for those who prefer to ride a different entertainment wave.
For more than a year, the chaps and gels of the Fitzrovia Radio Hour have been charming London nostalgists with their live fringe performances of classic radio plays of the 1940s and 1950s. Tonight, however, marks their debut at the UnderGlobe, the 300-seat exhibition space beneath Shakespeare's Globe on the South Bank.
Founded by jobbing actors Jon Edgley Bond, Alex Ratcliffe and Forties enthusiast Callum Coates, the Radio Hour was named after the location of its earliest broadcasts, a basement speakeasy in a former department store off Charlotte Street in London's Fitzrovia.
The basic format remains true to this day: four short plays – tonight themed around the concepts of time and space – delivered in cut-glass accents and accompanied by DIY sound effects and a superb house band. Not to mention spoof advertisements with deliciously un-PC plugs for whisky, Bromo Quinine tablets and cigarettes.
"This is not pastiche," insists Edgley Bond, 32, who cites both The League of Gentlemen and The Goon Show as writing influences. "Rather than sending up the genre, we're trying to recreate a ramped-up version. There's a lot of subversion in those original scripts." Even so, both cast and audience enjoy showcasing an authentic look. Edgley Bond swears by Mister Ducktail off Carnaby Street for his regulation RAF crop, plus lashings of pomade.
Tickets are a ration-friendly £5. And such are the joys of 21st century wireless that past episodes are now available as podcasts for those who find themselves far from Fitzrovia on a Friday night.
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