When I was asked to go and review a radio play recording at the Soho Theatre, I thought to myself hm. I’m not sure how I am going to do this, should I listen to the piece with my eyes closed? Maybe I should write about the experience of live recording in a millennial download generation setting. Should I make comments about the rather fabulous art of radio sound effects? However, after spending almost 2 hours in the Soho Theatre’s studio with rather talented writer, composer and troupe of performers it became clear to me. Just tell people how great it is and let them download the piece for themselves!!!
As way of an introduction: The Bad, The Sad and The Broken-Hearted is a 4 piece production, designed for radio broadcast. It has been co-produced by Alpaca Jones Productions and The Wireless Theatre Company.
I am told, by their website, that Wireless Theatre exists “to keep radio drama alive and well, by creating original, exciting audio theatre productions… for the download generation” The offer a service where you can download their plays for the bargain price of £1.49, or you can become a member and for £25 have unlimited access to all content they produce:
This 4-part anti-Valentine’s Day play was recorded on February 15th 2015 in front a live audience (no canned laughter for Wireless). The piece was cleverly penned by Elena Pavli, Elena also played the production’s protagonist and the enigmatic hero of the piece. Think a Hispanic Angelina Jolie crossed with Uma Thurman’s character in Kill Bill. The music was composed by Dan Gillespie Sells and performed by Dan Gillespie Sells and Ciaran Jeremiah (you may recognise them for the band The Feeling).
As an audience, we are transported into the South of the USA – we are in the war-torn desert complete with blood-shed and corpses, some in one piece, some massacred with a chain saw! We are introduced to a one-eyed madam and her whore house, a whore house that boasts prostitutes who can speak and sing in unison, This is where our tale begins.
Without giving too much away, the play boasts a community of unimaginable characters, those dreamt and those living – this including a talking Alpaca disguised as a Preacher Man and a disembodied revenge-full hand.
By now you’ll hopefully have realised that this production isn’t a naturalistic drama, but instead a hearty, laugh out loud comedic parody of all things Good, Bad and Ugly!
I loved the constant referencing to the western dramas of the Hollywood studios, I also could not keep the modern TV dramas like True Blood (the Bon Temps accent) and Breaking Bad (desert scenes) out of my mind.
So, why was it so great, why should you spent £1.49 on downloading this production? Firstly, £1.49 – that is the price of a loaf of bread these days, and to be honest the play will feed your soul just as well as a loaf of bread! Secondly, the piece is superbly written by Elena Pavli. The feminist in me loves that the production is all about strong women who make things happen, how faced with adversity why shouldn’t a strong woman just lay down and take it, why shouldn’t she play like a man and gun the B*stards down!. As I said before, think Uma Thurman in Kill Bill with a Hispanic accent and a gun!
There is a lot of swearing in the production, although in my opinion all was pertinent to the play’s universe. The great thing, for me, about being able to watch the recording of a radio play, is that you get to see all the bits that you don’t normally see – for example, who’d have thought that the sound for slitting someone’s neck open with blood squiring everywhere can be skilfully portrayed by a lady, a can of tomatoes and a bottle of ketchup! Seeing these things makes me, as an audience member, feel like I am in on the secret.
The full cast were brilliant, they were all practically off book and although recording for radio, all performers gave the audience 100% and portrayed their parts, rather than just reading their lines. I could not fault anyone’s comedic timing and as a result I’m sure that my rather loud laugh will make it on to the recording!
As an audience member I played the game of who do I recognise on stage, and of course saw some familiar faces from stage and screen.
If you get the chance to go to a radio recording in the future, I urge you to go, it’s great fun. And for those of you who can, do download this piece, you won’t be disappointed. Personally, I can’t wait to listen back to the production and see if I can spot my laugh.
Review by Faye Stockley
Recorded in front of a live audience for one night only. Greek tragedy meets slapstick comedy when Missy and her Chorus of Prostitutes spout wisdoms old and new as they battle love, loss and loneliness in the Wild West. Elena Pavli’s The Bad, The Sad And The Broken-Hearted is a live radio comedy-western, directed by Sony Award winning Jeremy Mortimer. Featuring live music by Dan Gillespie Sells of The Feeling.
Monday 16th February 2015