by Kimberly Wadsworth · August 16, 2014
Okay – I have seen theater that recreates “live radio broadcasts,” where you see the cast reading from scripts and there is a live foley artist onstage. I have also seen theater that riffs on the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books from the 1980s, where audience response dictates the twists and turns of the plot (“does the hero explore the old mill, or call the police and wait?”). Your Radio Adventure presents a new twist on both –by combining them.
Aaron Mednick plays M.C. for the ensemble (he is joined by Cali Elizabeth Moore, Efren Ramirez Reynoso, and Sarah-Nicole Robles), and sets up the initial premise – we are the live audience for their regular radio program, a 40s-noir drama (complete with jazzy theme song ) about a private eye. The audience readily chimed in for each of the plot suggestions (“is his customer a man or a woman?”….”does he investigate the creepy lab or the forest?” and the ensemble was just as cheerfully following along, scrambling for the proper foley prop or the right page in their script as the action went on. But best of all – when our choices lead to an early death for our hero (killed by aliens in the creepy lab, if I remember rightly), just as I starting to wonder what we would do for the remaining 70 minutes of showtime, the cast burst into the theme song again - and we were back in the private eye’s office, back at the beginning of the script and starting over. Brilliant!
The full show actually does two radio plays this way – the noir piece, and a 60s-esque zombie-movie plot (complete with an updated theme song) about an ill-fated road trip. They’ve allowed 30-40 minutes for each plot, and simply run through each as many times as they can before they’re “out of time”. The cast is clearly having a ball, and their zeal – and quick pace – not only ensures they get as many runs of each plot in as they can, it also sweeps the audience up in the fun; even the shyest person I saw in the house was shouting “no, they go TO THE ATTIC!” by show’s end. Sometimes the frantic pace led to bobbles with the foley work – it wasn’t clear what some sounds were supposed to be– and some costume changes during each plot slowed things slightly (incidentally, why are there costume changes for a radio show?). But these were only minor hiccups, and actually added to the show’s seat-of-the-pants feel.
Some FringeNYC shows can get very gimmicky or heavy, but this was just plain goofy fun.