Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Talk Radio


Theater on the Edge (5542 Hansel Avenue Orlando, FL 32809) is presenting Talk Radio by Eric Bogosian and Tad Savinar. The set by Samantha DiGeorge is amazing in all it's nostalgic splendor and detail. The space is divided into two rooms with a glass divider so that the soundboard guy can see the talent. The date is May 8, 1987 at WTLK in Cleveland Ohio. Spike (Christopher Ivers) who was in charge of running the ads was leaning back in his chair reading his Playboy. One radio show was winding to a close with a financial expert giving lofty and hard to follow financial advice to a confused listener. I started my sketch by getting him in place with his glasses and mustache. I wasn't aware that he was about to be replaced by the star of the next hour of talk radio Barry Champlain (Marco DiGeorge). Champlain's sound man was Stu Noonan (Alex Jackson). The two had worked together for years as Barry's career skyrocketed. On this night the manager Dan Woodreuff (Christian Wienker) informed Barry that his show was about to go national and that the new sponsors would be listening in.

I grew up listening to talk radio in high school, So I was familiar with the insipid callers who would say, "Long time listener, first time caller." It seems many would call in just to hear their own voice. Marco DiGeorge gives an amazing performance as the hardened talk show host who puts some callers down just to stay sane. Each character in turn had a blue illuminated cameo in which they relate their experiences with the radio talk show host. We learn about him from those who have to deal with him daily.

The soundboard used on stage must have been live because the calls came in quick succession. One caller claimed to have been partying for two days and his girlfriend was unconscious. There was some panic in the studio by Barry saw it as a prank call. On a second call in the high strung caller admitted he was making it all up. He then insisted on stopping by the studio to meet his talk show idol. Kent (Adam Minossora) had spiked up hair and his panicked manic performance caused me to stop sketching and just enjoy the performance. Kent was hilarious with his high wire antics and I thought for sure the executives would want him to have his own talk show. He rushed at the talk show host as if intent on murder but quickly shot a photo. Barry was actually a bit of a scholar before becoming a talk show host and Kent represented the lowest common denominator that Barry now had to accommodate.

Linda McArthur (Elaitheia Quinn) with a clipboard in hand produced the show. She wore a vibrant colorful jacket with neon colors. A raw and intimate moment came as she related how she felt about the talk show host. She decided to call in and she asked the host advice about how she should deal with her boyfriend. As they looked at each other through the glass window he told her she should move on and she stormed out of the studio visibly upset.

The entire show was an amazing roller coaster of emotions as the talk show host handled racists, bigots, and quiet fans who worshiped him yet really had no idea who he was. It all pushed him to the brink of giving up on humanity. Before social media and 140 character tweets, talk radio was where you got to experience trolls and desperate lonely people looking for attention.

I stood quickly for a standing ovation. Many of the cast were the callers who nettled the talk show host all night. The show was an existential rush felling claustrophobic with so many people calling with so many needs. This was a stellar show and should not be missed. The small theater had you right on top of the action. It felt like the host might fall into the abyss at any time and yet it was just one night that looked at a thin slice of crazy disturbing humanity.

Tickets for Talk radio usually run from $22 to $26. Every seat in the house is amazing. The show runs through December 8, 2019.


Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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