I am new to this much talked about company The Fitzrovia Radio Hour who perform pastiches of 1940s and 1950s radio plays. Currently performing at the Trafalgar Studios, their radio plays come accompanied with ‘home made’ sound effects created with a wide range of items including cabbages, watermelons, fans, hammers, doorknobs, watering cans and a pair rubber gloves.
Their current production contains three such plays, all performed by the company of five within a small space cluttered with various sound effect ‘tools’. These three plays have two acts each and you ‘hear’ the first acts of all three plays before you hear their respective concluding second acts. Sandwiched between each act /play are live advertisements for Rathbone pills which aim to cure anyone from their ‘torpor’, leaving the audience to chuckle at the similarities to recreational drugs.
The dexterity with which these actors move from one character/accent to another whilst physically providing all of the live sound effects is admirable. Alix Dunmore, who is one of the founder members of this company, is especially talented; she is not only able to do accents (including an Indian one) well but she is also able to cry convincingly like a newborn baby as well as crow like a rooster. But despite the company’s inventiveness, it is difficult to be fully engaged in the three radio plays for they each taper off at the end instead of finishing with a loud bang. Equally less engaging is the actors’ smirking and pulling faces at each other while performing the plays – these facial gestures are distracting and irrelevant for their relationship to each other is neither explored nor explained.
Nevertheless, with a running time of only 75 minutes, this is a charming production with some very clever sound effects.
The Fitzrovia Radio Hour perform at the Trafalgar Studios till 5 February before going on their debut UK wide tour.