All credit to the Tea Tree Players for choosing this unusual style of production and bringing it off so well.
As the title states, it was a collection of three Hitchcock mysteries presented in the format of a radio play going live to air. Director Selena Carr and her well-balanced cast and crew did well to enliven the performance as much as the format allowed.
Much of the humour of this entertaining piece came from the “off-microphone” sound effects and antics of the radio play cast. The three mysteries were successfully tied together by the commentary of the smooth-voiced MC, played by the engaging John Hudson. He brought an authentic historical radio style to the role, and kept up the necessary pace in doing so.
Fast pace and timing was critical to all three of the Hitchcock dramas. The cast sustained that, and also the required energy. The sound cues on stage were very well managed, while Selena Carr and Robert Andrews’ electronic sound cues were exceptional. The music and other effects were sophisticated, well-devised and superbly timed.
The cast of nine played multiple roles with skill and variety. They all had their chances to shine and all did so. Adrian Ceroni was amusingly menacing as the black-caped Mr Sleuth and showed delightful contrast as the music hall performer, Mr Memory. Kieran Drost was super suave as Burt Stoneman, using his warm baritone speaking voice to fine effect. Hayley Mitchell had strong characterisation as Charlotte and Winnie, while Alan Shepley showed versatility in his many roles notably as Dean Appleby and a pair of professors.
Of the three radio scripts, The Lodger and The 39 Steps were best suited to this style of performance, where the audience is let into some of the production secrets of radio. This audience loved that. Sabotage, on the other hand, was a little too extended and complex to sustain the impact, despite the excellent efforts of the Players’ cast and tech crew to keep things both clear and moving.
In all, though, this new step for the company was successful. The audience warmed to the mood and format and the cast kept us thoroughly entertained in a nicely stylized and nostalgic way.Vintage Hitchcock – A Live Radio Play
Tea Tree Players
Tea Tree Players Theatre
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