Call me judgemental, but there’s something about the phrase ‘one man show’ that gives me the heebie jeebies. More so when that phrase is accompanied by ‘written and performed by …’ My internal demon can’t help but respond with ‘indulgent’. I know it’s naughty, but more often than not, it’s true. Saying that, I am well and truly ready and open to be proven wrong, I have been before and I will be again. Could Radioman written and performed by Felix Trench be one of those that changes the record?
Radioman is an apt title for this one man fable that could just as well be heard and not seen. There’s a kaleidoscope of story threads that merge together to make for one trippy hour. Radioman is set on a barge boat turned space ship that floats upon live mixed music (a touch of genius) and rocks us back and forth with action that is entirely narrated. Telling is everything, hardly anything is shown. As these elements are merged together we begin to feel as though we are being told a bedtime story. A very good, if largely audio dependent, bedtime story.
That’s not to say that Anna Driftmier’s set isn’t beautiful. Consisting of three teal arches, diminishing in perspective to the bow of the boat. Lined by dormant lanterns providing an atmosphere that is austere and claustrophobic. Framing writer and actor (more writer than actor), Felix Trench.
I say that with the upmost respect, as the script is astonishingly intricate. The story carries itself so immaculately that to over-gild it would be almost sacriligious. The glory of Radioman is that it is pure and unadulterated storytelling. Does theatre need to be anymore than that?
Based on this encounter I’d say it needs another dimension of some kind. If not physical, there is still an emptiness where there should be a level of emotional jeopardy. The odd heart pound, maybe, or a slip to the edge of our seat, perhaps a single pang of excitement. Instead we are left in a lull, lulled by the tale and rocked by the lullaby of how it is told. Everything about the production is atmospheric, it is both surreal and ethereal. We are led to listen acutely, welcomed into a visual world of the imagination: ears pricked and ready to be taken on a ride. The problem is that the ride is minimal, if existent at all.
Radioman is playing at the Old Red Lion until 30 April. For more information and tickets, see the Old Red Lion website.
Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic