Ever had a burning desire to see radio entertainment being made in the studio? Me neither. Nonetheless, Wireless Theatre has offered just that. Spectators are given the chance to be part of a live studio audience as an hour of radio programming is recorded, with a different piece of radio drama, comedy, or history performed each day. Because of this, it is difficult to critique Wireless Theatre on the basis of only the first performance. However, despite the strength of the material on the first day, the show as a whole lacks a firm purpose.
The novelty of being able to hear yourself cough or clap when it airs is not enough of an attraction to warrant sitting through this unnecessarily static hour.
This first offering took the form of an interview with Mr Punch - of Punch and Judy fame - charting his journey from violent drunken fool in the Italian Commedia dell’Arte to the pinstriped puppetry we’re more familiar with today. It was certainly informative and never lost its sense of playful self-awareness as the centuries went by, particularly in the giggly wheeze of its puppet-protagonist, who was expertly voiced. Hopefully it will attract a good audience when it is actually aired.
Praise ought to be given to the various actors for their undeniable abilities; perhaps, though, the concept of the show ought to be given less. This chance to witness a live recording in a radio studio finds justification only as a curiosity. Being able to see what goes on doesn’t give much of an insight when it amounts to just watching people read off scripts and hit pieces of wood against a table. There are no particular revelations into the inner workings of radio recordings to be had here: it’s pretty much just what you’d expect. The novelty of being able to hear yourself cough or clap when it airs is not enough of an attraction to warrant sitting through this unnecessarily static hour.
Many people may find Wireless Theatre to be an intriguing hour, though I can’t help feeling that the visual aid doesn’t really add much. A more casual setup with a series of kettles may well have worked better. Not quite a radio experience; not quite theatre.