"Good cast but lacks plot"
by Matthew Partridge for remotegoat on 28/02/19

Tower Theatre have a reputation for mixing the classics with intelligent, but lesser-known, plays, and “Talk Radio” by Eric Bogosian sits firmly in the latter category. Barry Champlain (Simon Vaughan) is a late-night talk radio host. A major radio network have offered to syndicate Barry’s show nationwide, provided its executives are happy with his latest broadcast. However, while his producer Stu (Luke Own), station assistant Linda (Samatha Psyk) and station manager (Dan Woodruff), fret about him messing up this opportunity, it becomes clear that Barry has very mixed feeling about what he is doing.

Simon Vaughan is compelling as the misanthropic Barry, filled with loathing at his listeners, but at the same time utterly dependent on them. His self-destructive nature is made clear from the start, not only in the chain-smoking and heavy drinking, and the way he casually treats a mysterious package, but also in the way he treats Linda and Stu. The problem, is that while the play is long on character, it is short on plot, mainly consisting of Barry’s interactions with various callers (Yasir Senna, Stephen Brasher, Katherine Kennet and Lucy Moss.

While the studio appearance of a young fan (Leon Zedlmayer) spices things up a little, the play lacks tension or jeopardy. Even the attempt to have Psyk, Woodruff and Owen deliver short monologues about their relationship with Barry, seems artificial and forced. Overall, this is a case of an excellent cast being constrained by the shortcomings of the underling material. Still, Tower Theatre and Phillip Ley deserve a lot of credit for taking a gamble on a play that is a little different. The set, which Ley designed, also looks spectacular.

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