Having spent my earliest years eagerly absorbing the deep sound of my grandmother’s grand old stand-up radio and those at my family home, I have, along with generations before me, a deep and lasting fondness for its impact on the imagination.
Mark Kilmurry, writer, actor and Artistic Director of the Ensemble Theatre, has brought to the stage the wondrous magic of a 1959 radio studio with two short plays that he has written. The first, adapted from an Arthur Conan Doyle story, “The Solitary Cyclist”, and the second, another detective story, “The Dead(ly) Wives Club”. (Kilmurry has also directed the show with his landmark style and humour).
These work beautifully as plays within a radio play. The three actors at the microphones with scripts in hand are the very talented Mark Kilmurry, Daniel Mitchell and Georgie Parker. Behind them, as the mesmerising foley artist, responsible for the ambient sound effects delightfully recreated in this production, is actor Katie Fitchett. Stage Manager, Stephanie Lindwall sits in a control booth at the back of the stage running the show.
As the play opens, the studio crew prepare; Parker checks her script, Mitchell hip-flasks some vodka into his water, and Fitchett readies her remarkable sound props. Kilmurry welcomes us, his studio audience, with zest and wit, asking that we be ready for instructions, like applause and laughter. We feel instantly included in the rollercoaster to come.
Watching Fitchett’s foley artist is incredibly enjoyable. Her timing is impeccable. Her sound props include; ye olde ‘coconut clapping’ for horses’ hooves, a miniature door slamming shut, kitchen whisks for bicycle wheels, crackling cellophane for fire flames and a delightful pair of gloves to produce a flock of birds.
Simon Greer’s set is very functional and Genevieve Graham’s 50s costumes are great. As are Matt Cox’s lighting and Daryl Wallis’ sound design.
Because of the nature of the actors’ ‘script in hand’ radio delivery, and the foley artist inches away adding visual drama, the conflict between characters and actors and their fight for dominance, is naturally diluted. Holmes and Watson could be more menacing, however, as a radio play, a certain light-heartedness is inevitable and acceptable. It’s totally charming to see Holmes and Watson sway from side to side while the foley artist is stomping their footsteps in a gravel box.
MURDER ON THE WIRELESS is a hugely enjoyable show and a must for all you ‘Goon Show’ fans! It plays at the Ensemble Theatre until July 13th, 2019.
Featured image- Mark Kilmurry, Daniel Mitchell, Georgie Parker, Katie Fitchett and Stephanie Lindwall in the bio box. All pics by Prudence Upton