THE STAGE REVIEW

Hot off the qwerty...

Rip-roaring talent fest

Radio Times, The Watermill Theatre, Theatre Royal Winchester, 26 Nov - 1 Dec 2012

In terms of how much talent you can fit onto a stage, Radio Times just about takes the biscuit. Gary Wilmot is in his element, essentially playing himself as an old boy of the entertainment circuit while the utter brilliance among his supporting cast is never ending.

Christian Edwards as Jeeps the sound guy, is simply a genius. Armed with a desk fuller than full of musical instruments, his comic timing and characterisation is as good as I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy.

The plot... well it focuses on the live broadcast of Variety Bandwagon, a BBC light entertainment programme aired from The Criterion Theatre, London, circa 1940 amidst the blitz. There's a love triangle in there somewhere but to be honest, the storylines get in the way of the succession of truly brilliant ‘on-air’ performances of Noel Gay songs. The comically slick rendition of Run Rabbit Run is excellent (Ed Currie's elastic legs are worthy of a show all of their own) as is the moment the entire ensemble pull out ukuleles and sing Hey Little Hen.

John Conroy as the straight-laced BBC producer-turned-king of radio voiceovers also deserves a mention for the sheer brilliance of his versatility. I wouldn't have minded seeing him do Wilmot's part either for which he understudies.

The talent continues throughout the whole cast as they jump between the cacophony of musical instruments that fill the stage, in between tap routines, comedy sketches and chorus numbers.

As for the female leads, Sara Crowe is a little lacking in energy (the actor that is not the character) but Vivien Carter is a joy to watch.

In conclusion... (so that the zinger closing line I wrote for the local paper but got edited out doesn't go to waste, I'll use it here...) Hold on to your gas marks, Radio Times is so good it will almost tempt you into wishing you were back in bomb-stricken Britain to hear the real thing.

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