REVIEWER ATTENDED SHOW ON TUESDAY 21ST MAY.
THE RADIOPLAY HOUR: THE COFFIN IN STUDIO b HAS NOW FINISHED ITS Anywhere Festival Run.
FOR FUTURE DATES AND MORE INFO, SEE THE DRAMA MERCHANT’S WEBSITE.
The Drama Merchant is back in Anywhere territory. Following 2016’s The Curiosity Experiment, Nathan Schulz and his team are now aiming to present The Coffin in Studio B, a supposedly cursed radioplay from the 1940s, replete with home made sound effects. On its first broadcast, listeners believed they heard one of the actors die during recording, and it seems the curse isn’t done with the Wyllis Cooper script just yet.
Upon arrival, a myriad of things have gone wrong. An actor is missing. Traffic has slowed everyone down. Rehearsal footage has been corrupted. Even I wasn’t immune – I’d dropped my phone on the way in and the screen had cracked.
Undeterred, Schulz begins to set the the scene. He tells us a little about radioplays, has us test out the sound effects, and rehearses his remaining actors. The show must go on, as they say.
It’s wise to leave it there, to save you from spoilers (and the curse), but suffice it to say that things don’t really go according to plan.
That you can’t really tell what’s staged and what’s not is both the show’s greatest asset and its biggest potential weakness. It’s all too easy to overcompensate and draw too much attention, or underplay it and give off an unprofessional air. There’s a few awkward silences while the audience processes what’s happening, and it’s hard to focus on the story itself while we’re waiting for sound effect cues from Schulz.
I wonder if it might have been better to play things a little straighter, to present the radioplay with an arrogance Orson Welles himself would have delighted in (“Curse? What curse?!”), and then for things to go gradually more and more wrong.
That being said, The Radioplay Hour: The Coffin in Studio B really does offer something different, and that’s exactly what Anywhere Festival is about. Presented by a talented team that does their research and loves what they do, it’s fun, informative (I know much more about radioplays now!), and occasionally a little bit creepy.
Review by Jodie Sloan (website)