Radio

Sat 5th – Sat 19th August 2017

reviews

Louis Harnett O'Meara

at 11:22 on 11th Aug 2017

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'Radio' was a show that epitomized the student life to a freshly graduated mind – a millennial ‘Young Ones’ in the making. It was an astute and down-to-earth rendering of the inevitable decline of the student house, performed with plenty of humour and verve. A troupe of six fresh-faced actors played roles that seemed only too familiar to the audience and themselves, and the characters were honest and unforced. It wouldn’t surprise me if they had all lived in a house together themselves at some point, and it was warming to see such a comfortable dynamic between all six of them. Joe Peden as ‘Paul’ was a favourite amongst the bunch both in character and acting, and his friendly ingenuousness was a clear redemption to the excesses of the student life.

The premise was simple: the house had to be vacated in an hour’s time; university was over. But celebrations had gone a little too far the night before. The house was a dump after all the work packing, nobody can quite remember the exact series of events, and – why are the police on their way? Friends turn to enemies, relationships begin to crumble, and student decadence is stripped bare from every angle. It all seemed too familiar to a recent graduate.

The eponymous radio serves as a clever device throughout the show, tying the dialogues together with social commentaries on a ‘lost generation’ – and as many times as they turn it off, it seems to be turning itself back on. It provides the soundtrack, the intrigue, and eventually the plot, its interjections stirring the pot whenever things began to cool down. Sexual insecurity, middle-class-privilege, infidelity and invasion of privacy are all authentically addressed without any taint of condescension. The play seems both timeless and very much of its time – enviable qualities in any performance. There were of course a few dead jokes, the odd stilted expression, and a few cringeworthy moments, but the handling was saved by the ingenuous theme of the play. It was a student production, by students and for students, and it showed that it was a lot of fun to make.

Although the script was tightly written, the end disappointed a little when it didn’t quite wrap things up as it had been promising it might. This said, I didn’t leave the show on a down-note, but rather in good spirits, and happy to see that the Fringe is still alive and well – it felt like I saw the start of something. It wouldn’t surprise me to see some of the members of the cast cropping up in future comedy classics. It was an impressive performance, and a well executed step in the long line of university life comedies.

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Sian Bayley

at 12:03 on 11th Aug 2017

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The question of what it really means to be ‘a proper grown-up’ hangs over the students in Archie Thomson’s play ‘Radio’, a piece of new writing brought to the Fringe by Sunscreen Productions. Having just finished their degrees, and now preparing to move out, it hits housemates Tom, Steph, Beatrice, Jules, and Paul that the relationships they have maintained over the last three years are now about to be tested. A witty and observant production, ‘Radio’ ticks all the boxes for a great night out at the Fringe.

Anyone who has ever lived in a student house will immediately recognise the classic stereotypes of Thomson’s production, particularly the control freak who sorts out the bills and the significant other who fails to contribute anything towards the upkeep of the house. Along with the general mess, impromptu dancing in the kitchen, and omnipresence of beer bottles, Thomson’s show is spot-on in its recreation of the daily life of modern students. It is a genuinely funny play, with some excellent one-liners from Joe Perden as typical northern lad Paul, and Alexandra Ackland-Snow as the socially-awkward Steph. Their performances feed into the superb ensemble acting that makes this such an engaging show to watch.

Tensions soon begin to surface as the housemates split off into smaller groups to bitch and gossip about one another. When the seemingly innocuous radio mysteriously begins replaying these recordings, everyone’s secrets, doubts and fears are revealed, resulting in a series of heated arguments that challenge the friends’ futures together, and question whether they really knew each other at all. Whilst the radio evidently provided Thomson with a helpful plot device to enable the students to hear each other’s honest opinions of one another, it nevertheless seemed rather too contrived for me. There was no attempt to explain how exactly the radio was doing this, or the reasons for it, making this crucial element of the play seem somewhat out of place. Instead, the radio worked best as comic relief, selecting hilariously apt songs to play after tense and difficult moments, most notably Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence’ after a particularly dramatic break up.

The strengths of ‘Radio’ lie in Thomson’s detailed and accurate depictions of modern students, and the powerful performances given by this young and talented cast. Having just completed my degree, I can sympathise with the difficult position the characters find themselves in, as they teeter on the edge of adulthood and question the value of their time at university, and the friendships they made there.

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