Venue: theSpace@Symposium Hall – Main Theatre
Radio 69 is a wonderfully wacky comedic drama which unfurls in the confines of a small, unassuming, radio station set in the Scottish borders. Typically hitting the waves with a mix of eccentric local news stories, inept traffic reports and some notably ‘alternative’ methods of weather forecasting, we are first introduced to the station as it is struck with the imminent threat of closure following an undisclosed incident. The following 50 minutes fly past in a faced-paced, drama-filled extravaganza as the ensemble race to discover the true nature of the incident, whilst fighting to keep the station open.
The characters are all exceptionally well-crafted; from the endearing, sleazy charm of larger-than-life businessman Filthy Phil (Tom Creswell), to the zany, granola-fuelled prophecies of eccentric weather woman Pippa (Emer Williams). Each of the ensemble cast perfectly straddles a genuine, naturalistic warmth, with a unique farcical flare which combine for laugh out loud performances. While the single table set could be restrictive to some, The Counterminers manage to fill the performance with energetic movement. The ambience of a radio station is achieved with a creative use of sound (Mallory Smith) and lighting (Lois Zonnenberg), adding well to the immersive feeling of the performance. Additionally, the use of humorous small advertisement skits helps to nicely break up the performance and adds a quirky touch.
A highly ambitious piece of theatre, the scripting (by Hollie Avery, Zoē Robertson and Holly Sargent) is full of witty one-liners, although could stand to dedicate more energy to its main narrative. Diverging into multiple plotlines and an array of overlapping character arcs, it was at times confusing to follow. That said, any slight confusion is more than made up for by the riotous pace of the performance. When Doug, the plotting cleaner wonderfully performed by Jamie Cushing, launches into a one-man performance of Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman’, or later as he nails an impressive drag impersonation of the First Minister, the laughter of the audience is loud enough to overcome the perplexity of the plot. The conclusion too felt a little rushed and unfulfilling, although there is no doubt that with the benefit of a slightly longer, pre-pandemic running time, these slight flaws could be ironed out. Ultimately, the originality and unrelenting enthusiasm of Radio 69 makes for a truly stand-out show of The Fringe.
Aug 19-21, 19:05
Image Credit: Freya Wilson