Radioman

Theatre, Fringe
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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A twee but beguiling story wit music about a man who breaks into a radio station owner's boat

Breaking into a canal boat to have a bit of a tidy up of someone’s cassette tape collection: there are less twee openings to stories. And if nostalgia, politeness, and defunct media formats don’t thrill you this gentle storytelling performance is unlikely to be music to your ears.

But Felix Trench’s tale of a riverbound radio station exerts a quiet, faintly maddening magic of its own. Performer Trench adopts the manner of a kind of present day Bertie Wooster, an upper-crust interloper who pops into a stranger’s canal boat, first out of nosiness, then to nourish its eccentric owner with packages of sandwiches. 

His reluctant (never seen) host – who he dubs Radioman – is the proprietor of Radio Gadfly, an esoteric station fermented in the collective wet dreams of frustrated 6Music employees: all German electronica and obscure midcentury Argentinian crooners. Its music intrigues, then obsesses the two men pressed into its service. But ironically, weak sound design lets Trench’s story down. 

The music’s mixed live on stage, but the DJ never becomes more than a silent stooge, unleashing tea-tepid beats with mute stoicism. And worst crime of all, it’s incredibly quiet, lapping at your feet like scum-topped canal waves but never immersing you in sound. 

Instead, you’re left to see music’s power refracted in the mad gleam in Trench’s eyes, as his story gets deeper, darker and weirder. Perhaps it’s fitting, because this performance is all about secondhand pleasures. Records worn down by successive hands, music converted from vinyl to tape to MiniDisc to iPod. Or stories, retold and repeating themselves. Secondhand, but with enough quaint kinks to resonate.es here please.

By: Alice Savile

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