Are You Sitting Comfortably? takes as its premise the intriguing idea of setting a run of the mill office romcom inside a radio. Yes, you read that correctly. Not a radio station but a radio. Surprisingly it works. It is a fun, charming play, zany in parts, adorable in others, it amounts to a genuine treat.
The leads are both sweet and funny. Thomas Stuchfield is the amiable, geeky FM wondering will the girl of his dreams ever fall for him and Harriet Cartledge is AM, the aforementioned girl of FM’s dreams. She is a tad more assertive, direct, yet just as lovable as her counterpart. In comes the dastardly Deck (Stephen Bermingham), suitably decked out in camp frilly tape and garish purple clothes, to try and thwart the burgeoning love affair. It is precisely as silly and original as it sounds. Bermingham is sometimes too theatrical in his role, being grating rather than menacing or funny. However, for the most part he carries himself with a good deal of good humour.
Certain scenes were incredibly well written. The inevitable date between FM and AM, two personified stations who can only ever hear each other’s voices and therefore not see what the other is doing, is quite wonderful. It is an idea full of comic potential and one which the play exploits to the hilt, giving a whole new meaning to the term blind date. Another great scene shows the owner of the radio utterly gripped to a hilarious parody of the Archers while FM can barely contain his own desire to throw up at the maudlin concerns of yet another Radio 4 affair.
The comic highlights of the play come from the finely executed impressions of various radio voices, although sometimes these go on for too long. One particular skit about a man trying to get a seat in a train done in the style of racehorse commentary, while being quite funny, does seem to drag on and on (insert flogging a dead horse joke here, but keep it short). Other scenes should simply have been cut altogether. For instance, there is one scene where there is an invasion of pirate radio which of course means that actual pirates run amok onstage. It is a scene that is not nearly as funny as it sounds, as it led to the rather awkward waving of swords in an unconvincing manner.
Charming, quirky, slightly inconsequential but a very nice spin on an old genre favourite, Are You Sitting Comfortably? is something to listen out for.