Theatre Review: John Peel’s Shed at Jacksons Lane

No faith left in humanity? Then try John Osborne’s funny, absorbing trek through a box of vinyl.

Listening to an enthusiast banging on about their obsession generally goes one of two ways. You either get caught up and whisked along in their passionate diatribes or, more often than not, bored to tears as they roll out factoid after indescribably dull factoid.

Thanks heavens that John Osborne - despite geeky first impressions - has nailed the art of storytelling.

Revealing himself to be the lucky recipient of a box of improbably obscure vinyl from the legendary DJ’s garden shed, Osborne delivers a fluid and enjoyable meditation on the oft-overlooked joys of radio.

As we join him on his eight-year journey to listen to every track on every record in that box (“full of people’s hopes and dreams,” he says, from Walter Ghoul’s Lavender Brigade to Boyzone punk covers band Oizone), Osborne dissects what it is that keeps us locked on the wireless even now.

With a warm, affable and disarming delivery and tales from his own part-time jobs hell, he tells us how radio saves us from the everyday; from the cookie-cutter Radio 1 shows that lift the masses from dead-end drudgery, to the graveyard-shift DJs in Norwich sweating over playlists heard by only three listeners and a dog.

As an argument for a medium that simultaneously unites millions and is as comforting and personal as your favourite winter jumper, it’s devastating.

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His enthusiasm is infectious, his observations clear-headed and his quips are smart and funny.

It’s little wonder his run at the Edinburgh Festival sold out. This is a rare show that restores your faith in humanity.

* John Peel’s Shed was performed at Jacksons Lane, in Archway Road, N6, from October 25-29.