Radioplay, The Vortex - 18th November 2007 - London Jazz Festival

Radioplay began life as a one man show, and was a great success at the Edinburgh fringe a few years ago.  This one-off reincarnation for the London Jazz Festival saw the addition of singer Christine Tobin, Phil Robson on guitar and Dave Whitford on bass. Ed Gaughan performs the show, which he co-wrote with director Wes Williams.
Radioplay, The Vortex - 18th November 2007 - London Jazz Festival
Beginning as a Cornish coach driver, chatting to us passengers over his shoulder as we travel through the night to London, he tells us the surreal story of his late great uncle Richard and his cohort Doctor Scientist.  As sharp as it is silly, the tale takes us to New York in the twenties, and the early days of radio; Gaughan’s first character shift, to brash radio announcer, tumbles into a cascade of voices as a radioplay within the play unfolds.  Gaughan’s performance is like a one man Simpsons episode spun out by way of Under Milk Wood, full of unexpected deviations, intelligence and wildly imaginative characters.

The addition of the jazz trio just works, if only because to hear Christine Tobin sing is never less than a joy.  A singer has been written into the story, prompting occasional performances of standards.  But sadly, it is by no means an integrated piece of musical theatre.  The honed precision of the monologue is quite clumsily interrupted by the musical interludes, which are not performed in character or period, but merely with the musicians as their glorious selves.

One can’t help feeling that it’ll do as a festival one-off, but that they’d need to incorporate the musicians from the inception, rather than tack them on at the end, for a completely satisfying result.  Still, this is what festivals are for, and Radioplay was sufficiently brimming with talent on all sides to make the experiment worthwhile.

David Walter Hall