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The Fitzrovia Radio Hour’s Christmas Special – Review

The Fitzrovia Radio Hour’s Christmas SpecialAlthough thoroughly embodying the spirit of the 1940s, the Fitzrovia Radio Hour is no slavish copy of the radio dramas of that era. Rather it is an homage; a tip of the hat to the production values and ambiance of the wartime period, combined with a healthy dose of sly and occasionally risqué modern satire.

The energetic and joyful performers take it in turns as voice and Foley artists; slipping between accents, sound effects and hats with breathtaking fluidity. The accents are deliberately broad parodies, ranging from cut-glass pencil moustache to Clouseau French, via cheeky chirpy cockney chappie. The sound effects are simple but effective: a kitchen whisk becomes a bicycle; a bowl of water a drowning man; a boxing match is conveyed by someone repeatedly thumping a cabbage then later, and rather more gruesomely, a melon.

The hats are necessary because these performances are taking place before our very eyes, and at such speed that without visual aids we would become hopelessly confused. There are four Christmassy mini-plays in all, interspersed with ads from their sponsor, Soho (ho!ho!ho!) Tobacco. We are treated to “It’s A Passable Life”, “The Woman Who Didn’t Prepare”, “Boxing Day Champ!” and “The (Christmas) Day they stole the Eiffel Tower”. The last one is arguably the most successful, being an enjoyably ridiculous crime caper which somehow manages to combine Indiana Jones, Ocean’s Eleven and The Pink Panther. It is also the only one which has anything approaching a happy ending, the others all culminating in unmitigated disaster and deep unhappiness. One might have thought the Fitzrovians would have made an effort to brighten things up, it being Christmas and all, but no such luck. Dash it all.

Nevertheless, the eccentric and charming little band manage to provide an evening of frightfully good, frivolous forties fun. All very jolly, and exactly what is needed to brighten up the cold evenings in the run-up to Christmas.

4 stars

Review by Genni Trickett

The Fitzrovia Radio Hour’s Christmas Special
Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes approximately, with an interval

Recreating the unique spirit of 1940’s radio plays and brilliantly evoking a dinner-jacketed age of casual imperialism and stiff upper lips, The Fitzrovia Radio Hour’s Christmas Special comes to the St. James Studio for a strictly limited festive season.

Performed with cut-glass theatricality blending homage and satire, Fitzrovia mixes the chauvinist attitudes of 1940s Britain with sharp contemporary humour to produce a heady comic cocktail.

The Fitzrovia Radio Hour’s Christmas Special stars Tim Dewberry, William Findley, Alex Gilbert, Fiona Sheehan and Dan Starkey. It is written by Tom Mallaburn, Martin Pengelly, Jon Edgley Bond and Phil Mulryne. The director is Jon Edgley Bond.

The Fitzrovia Radio Hour’s Christmas Special
ST. JAMES THEATRE
12 Palace Street,
London, SW1E 5JA.
United Kingdom
12th to 23rd December 2015

Author

  • Genni Trickett

    Genni is one of the senior reviewers for LondonTheatre1.com, contributing regularly with reviews for London and regional shows. Genni has been passionate about theatre from an early age, performing in various productions throughout school and university. She is currently an enthusiastic member of an amateur dramatic society in South West London. Her favourite thing about living in London is the breath-taking variety of shows and theatrical talent. https://www.facebook.com/genevieve.trickett

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