Audible Announce New London Production of Al Smith’s Radio

Josh Roche
Josh Roche

Audible, the world’s leading producer and provider of spoken-word entertainment, deepens its commitment to UK theatre announcing a new London production of Radio written by Al Smith.

Josh Roche directs Adam Gillen as Charlie Fairbanks in a one-man play about memory, love and spaceships. The production opens at Arcola Theatre on 24 June, with previews from 19 June and runs until 13 July. To coincide with the opening of the stage show, a studio recording of Radio will also release exclusively on Audible this summer, available for members to download worldwide.

Charlie Fairbanks was born in the dead centre of the United States at the dead centre of the twentieth century. Americans are going to the Moon and Charlie’s sure he’ll be the first one there.

But as he shines his spotlight on the Moon, so too does it illuminate the darker side to his nation’s history.

Al Smith, said today, “I’m delighted that Audible is staging and releasing Radio in audio – I hope it will give more people an opportunity to hear it. It feels exciting to me that the play’s being restaged in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. I wrote it as a sort of love letter to my dad who, as a young physicist, worked for NASA to help select potential landing sites for Apollo 11. It seems heart-breaking that in the near-half-century since that extraordinary achievement humans haven’t been back. And so the play, I suppose, is a reflection on that, and tries to look at what gets left behind when a planet turns its collective attention to the heavens for a single moment.

Director Josh Roche chats with

Q: What appealed to you about directing Radio?
Josh: I’ve wanted to make some work about America for a couple of years. The entrenched political warfare that’s raging through that country now, not just via Trump but through Congress, the State Legislatures, Activist groups and so on, is an extraordinary spectacle. Whether it’s abortion law, gun safety, tax cuts or the Mueller Report, the furious rift between the two sides of the country is palpable.

Radio is a play that brilliantly diagnoses this anger. The play is about the Space Race, which might feel a long way from today’s political climate, but Al Smith’s play manages to make 1969 speak to 2019. Radio is as much about American optimism and disappointment, as it is about the moon.

Q: Radio will be available on Audible – how has this affected direction?
Josh: Audible are a huge and exciting new producing force in London theatre. We’ll be rehearsing the production for performance at the Arcola, and then recording that same production in the Audible studios for release on the app. This means that Al’s story can reach a much wider audience, which we’re delighted about. We’ve played with the aural textures of the theatrical production so that both the stage and audio productions share a language, but I wouldn’t want to spoil that by revealing it here. You’ll have to come and see it.

Q: What can you tell us about Radio?
Josh: Radio is the story of Charlie Fairbanks, a man born in the middle of America, in the middle of the century. His dreams are handed down to him by his country and his father, and the play is his attempt to retell that history. Radio is a deeply moving, personal journey into the heart of the USA, at the time of its greatest achievements, and most tragic mistakes.
Charlie is played by Adam Gillen, who’s just got off stage with Orlando Bloom in Killer Joe where he was nominated for an Olivier Award. So this is also an opportunity to see a rising star at the top of his game, in a close-quarters intimate solo production. His charm and skill are the perfect compliment to Al’s play I think, and if rehearsals are anything to go by, the final performance will be brilliant.

Arcola Theatre
24 Ashwin Theatre, Dalston, London E8 3DL
19 June – 13 July 2019
Press night: Monday 24 June, 7pm
Box Office: 020 7503 1646

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