Fitzrovia Radio Hour @ Mermaid Arts Centre
Recreating the unique spirit of 1940s radio plays and brilliantly evoking a dinner-jacketed age of casual imperialism and stiff upper lips, The Fitzrovia Radio Hour’s brand new show comes to Mermaid fresh from three critically acclaimed London residencies. Performed with cut-glass theatricality blending homage and satire, Fitzrovia mixes the chauvinist attitudes of 1940s Britain with sharp contemporary humour to produce a heady comic cocktail. Throughout the plays, sound effects are created live: a Bakelite hairdryer imitates a heating torch, a desk fan becomes an aeroplane, and multiple types of cabbage help to stage a fight scene. Rippingly good fun!
Founder Tom Mallaburn speaks here to Caomhan Keane
Q: Tell me about the Fitzrovia Radio Hour?For people who'll never have heard of you, what do you do?
A: It's a 1940s inspired radio theatre show, where audience see the inner workings of a 1940s radio show. You have three actors, two actresses all dressed in appropriate hair, costumes and make up, standing behind vintage microphones, performing a number of very silly stories and adverts. Every one will be performing their own live sound effects, so each of the actors will be playing many different characters- one moment a Nazi Commandant and the next running over to hit a cabbage with a stick, then rushing back to play the damsel in distress.So we exploit sound effects, silly stories and some very antiquated attitudes. Also you get to see the off mic attitudes of the performers towards one another. For example you will have one couple playing lovers in the play withing the play but when they are kissing each other you can tell they absolutely despise each other.
How did the show develop?
It's gotten increasingly visual and theatrical as the years have gone by and it's very much been lead by the audience. We initially started off doing actual shows from the period. But we got a residency under The Globe Theatre in 2009 , during which time we developed ten original shows, one a month. Each months show was a direct response to the way the one previous had gone. If effects went down really well in March, there would be lots of violent deaths in the show in April. Shows were reactions to audience response
How do you find what effect works best?
It's just a grabbing household objects and seeing what they sound like. We prefer using unlikely looking objects that make ridiculous sounds over using the actual object that makes said sound. So, for example, we're use a stapler instead of a typewriter to make the noise a type writer would make.
What's the mean age of your audience?
We've found we attract all types to the show. You get the more elderly audience members who are going for the nostalgia. Then you get the younger audience members who come to laugh at the dated attitudes, like the sexist take on women. The attitudes towards women are now unacceptable but we have a licence to make fun of such things as long as we don't labour the point to much.
The Fitzrovia Radio Hour is at the Mermaid Arts Centre this Sunday June 16th at 8.00pm. Tickets priced €16/€14
Story by Sheena McGinley | 09:00 | Thursday 14th June 2012 | Theatre
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