Radio Man, The Old Red Lion Theatre, review: ‘Nothing can pull this play out of the mire’

radioman at teh old red lion

radioman at teh old red lion - Credit: Archant

Things start promisingly enough. An ornate stage design depicts a canal boat. Meanwhile, a sound desk sits at the front of the stage containing a number of different gadgets. So far, so intriguing. Sadly, however, all of the curiosity fades as soon as the narrative goes on its unwieldy march.

Taking the form of a one-man monologue, this is the story of ‘a walker’ (Felix Trench in the first person) and his encounters with a decrepit narrow boat named ‘Gladfly’. Taken up with curiosity and opting to knock upon its hull, he takes a tentative step inside. Once within, he is greeted by a near-silent ogre who sits at its helm blasting out music of all varieties. Felix aims to interact, but manages to procure little by way of a response. In an unsettling twist, reality is gradually shorn of its crystal clarity and a more opaque and hazy truth is presented through Felix’s soliloquy.

Charting themes such as identity, madness, isolation and depression, Trench’s florid vocabulary and effusive delivery is aided by the live score. Unfortunately, whilst the music adds a frisson of novelty to proceedings, it is not vibrant or dynamic enough and becomes rather anonymous and forgettable as matters progress.

Atmosphere certainly percolates around the narrative, but the tale lacks the vital ingredient of suspense and intrigue. The premise is also just a little dull. So much so that a taut runtime of an hour actually feels longer. There is talent in this team, but they would do well to be more ruthless with the source material. Tension is inadequately handled.

Despite a physical performance and complementary assistance from director, lighting and sound none can pull Radioman out of the mire. A disappointment.

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Rating: 2/5 stars.

Radio Man

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