It’s a laugh-filled trip back to 1939, when radio was king.
DENNIS – Once upon a time, before the days of smart TVs and in-home media rooms, the Philco or Magnavox radio in the parlor was a family’s only source of entertainment. Families huddled around the miraculous device, mesmerized by “Mystery Theatre” or “The (fill in the sponsor’s name) Comedy Hour.”
Eventide Theatre Company returns to those days in “Radio Ridiculous,” a laugh-filled trip back to 1939, when radio was king and a radio station’s staffers were the talent and the special effects crew rolled into one. The six cast members take on a variety of hilarious personas as they present a mystery, comedy and “condensed classic.” In fact, the show, directed by Toby Wilson, is actually a running series of one-liners, which the cast delivers with perfect comedic timing and a staggering array of voices and accents.
The first thing you notice when you enter the Gertrude Lawrence Stage at the Dennis Union Church is the radio-era (1930s and 1940s) music playing in the background. And onstage the set is an authentic-looking, old-time radio station complete with an “On air” sign, a variety of war posters and an array of low-tech equipment for sound effects, including a miniature door that supplies an eerie creaking sound. The up-close-and-personal theater is the perfect setting for a show like this, which is all about bringing the audience right into the action on stage.
The experienced cast members (Stephen Ross, Leigh Wilson, Cleo Zani, Janet Geist Moore, Thomas Crutchfield and Barry Lew) are a perfect team as they effortlessly switch personas again and again, delivering lines in accents that range from Cockney to Brooklyn to patrician.
Zani seems particularly adept at jumping from one persona to another, one minute playing a clueless New York criminal and the next doing a perfect impression of Curly of the Three Stooges.
And in the opening segment, Crutchfield is hilarious as a cat, expressing a whole range of emotions with one word: meow. Really, I could go on at-length listing one effective bit after another. For example, in a spoof of “Les Miserables,” Geist Moore grabs the microphone to play an extensive, hysterically melodramatic death scene.
“Radio Ridiculous” is a tight little package of comedy and nostalgia. It’s a perfect escape from the world of electronics and online everything. It is simply fun.