Review: The Fitzrovia Radio Hour, TakeOver Festival, York Theatre Royal

The Fitzrovia Radio Hour is theatre at its most clever, entertaining and inspiring.

As I walked out of the Theatre Royal last Friday, in an elated post-show haze, I overheard a stylishly-dressed theatregoer say: “Now I wish I’d though of that”, and silently agreed.

The concept is fiendishly simple: we watch as five actors enact a 1940s style radio show, moving with frenetic and balletic grace as they recount short stories, such as He Should Have Known His Place, the tragic tale of Frank Gaskill, the lathe-worker from Leeds with ambitions beyond his station, and the most excellent Undead Queen Of Evil!

Part of the brilliance of the production was watching how the sound effects were achieved: how the dull thump of a mallet on a cabbage followed by the crushing of a watermelon could simulate a crushing skull with astonishing accuracy.

The 1940s’ aesthetic allowed the writers to shrug off the shackles of political correctness, as the risqué jokes and double-entendres came thick and fast, rewarded by the audience’s appreciative laughter.

This Fitzrovia Productions show is a collective effort, actors Tom Mallaburn and Phil Mulryne sharing writing credits with Martin Pengally and Jon Edgley Bond, the mounting involvement of each adding to the richness of the experience.

The production stopped in York for one night only, but the impression it made was a lasting one – check Fitzrovia out if you get the chance, you will not be disappointed.

- Catherine Marcus

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