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Stroyka Theatre Talk Radio

By • Feb 22nd, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Talk Radio by Eric Bogosian
Stroyka Theater
Burke Theater at the Heritage Center, Washington DC
Through February 21st
@:15 with one intermission
$15-$25
Reviewed February 19, 2010

Talk Radio is a play in two acts by Eric Bogosian. It takes place in a radio broadcast booth of a small station in Cleveland. The shock jock is Barry Champlain who some love to love and others love to hate. Either way they all call in to WTLK to hear what he has to say. Barry doesn’t disappoint. He tells it the way he thinks it is. His show is about to be syndicated nationally, and Barry doesn’t know how he feels about that.

Roman Gusso played the role of Barry Champlain. Gusso was at his best when he was walking or rather storming around the stage while listening to a caller, but unfortunately he was tied to his seat for most of the show, draining energy. As the phone calls poured in, Gusso was able to swiftly change personalities from concerned friend to angry accuser, all a part of Champlain’s act.

Producer Stu Noonan (Walter Gottlieb) and secretary Linda MacArthur (Kelly Manion) were allies of Champlain and were doing appropriate busy work. Spike (Nikolas Chaikin) was on-stage the entire time running sound effects and commercials, but had no lines, and his presence was actually a bit distracting at times.

The Burke Theater at the Heritage Center is a very nice performing space, but it wasn’t built for full theatrical performances, lacking wings (although the side aisles were effectively used) or lighting options (it was difficult to see the cast’s faces as the only lighting available was directly over the stage, giving a sinister appearance to the performers). A spotlight was used to emphasize the actors during monologues. The set of desks and chairs was simple and appropriate, although the lack of an “on-air” light was disappointing. Projections were used throughout the show in place of larger set pieces.

Talk Radio closed this weekend, but Stroyka Theatre is preparing for their summer musical, Li’l Abner, with auditions taking place this coming weekend.

Director’s Notes

Several years ago I saw a production of Talk Radio. Something about it stuck with me, and it became a show that I strongly wanted to direct. Of course when the time comes to write the Director’s Note, it is time to sit and ask yourself ”why”? Why this show? Why now? What does this piece of art say that somehow compels me to share this piece with others? I found that the answers were more fitting than I first realized.

In many ways, the story of Barry Champlain is a cautionary tale. Barry forgets that art is, for the most part, just art. This is what makes Barry a tragic hero. It is hamartia; his fatal flaw. Everyone around him can see this but him. Ultimately, it pushes away everything and everyone in his life that that had the potential to be real.

I have spent my life immersed in art: theatre, books, music, television, movies. I have always had one foot in the fictional. I would be the first to argue that art is the greatest and best way to remind us of truths about real life. Art is magical and special and wonderful. However at the end of the day art is just art. Like Stu, we go home to our wives and our kids. We go home to the real world. We use art to inform and enrich our real lives in the real world. If we forget the distinction and try to live solely in the world of art, believing that art is more than it really is, we will end up with nothing but a shattering illusion that we are desperately trying to hold together. This is the world of Barry Champlain. A world that we should all be wise enough to avoid.

This is the perfect time for STROyKA to perform this piece, as we are letting go of the illusion that everything we perform has to have some deep message and change the world. As we are recognizing that art is just art. More than that, we have decided that we want to share with our families and our children. So, Barry Champlain is our last reminder that we do not want to walk in his footsteps. We want to stop taking ourselves too seriously and start enjoying more of life. To enjoy life, we must enjoy art. As art.

So, we hope you enjoy this show. Just don’t take it too seriously. After all, it’s just a show.

–JL Russo

Cast

  • Barry Champlain: Roman S. Gusso
  • Stu Noonan: Walter Gottlieb
  • Spike: Nikolas Chaikin
  • Linda MacArthur: Kelly Manion
  • Dan Woodruff: Ed Silverstein
  • Bernie/Francine/Chet/John/Caller/Arnold: Gavin Whitt
  • Sid/Josh/Glenn/Henry/Vincent/Chris/Allan/Ralph/Larry: Jack Wassell
  • Richard/Announcer/Junior/Kent/Bob/Fred: Denys Petrov
  • Rhonda/Ruth/Debbie/June/Agnes/Julia/Jackie/Susan: Christina Marie Frank
  • Cathleen/Denise/Lucy/Rachael: Kiva Fecteau
  • Additional commercial Voices: Maboud “E” Ebrahimzabeh, Genevieve Fecteau, Simon Gusso, Shanice Jones

Crew

  • Producer: Roman S. Gusso
  • Director: Jennifer L. Gusso
  • Technical Director/Stage Manager: Genevieve Fecteau
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Kiva Fecteau
  • Costumer/Make-up: Roman S. Gusso
  • Props Mistress: Shanice Jones
  • Lighting Designer: David Stevenson
  • Sound Designer: Alan Chaikin
  • Photographer: Karen Simmons
  • Videographer: Ben Simmons
  • House manager: Henry T. Keegan
  • Ushers: Pamela Anderschat, Zhenya Anderschat, Judith Arbacher, Rachel Arbacher, Julia Fu, Rachel Keegan
  • Dramaturge: Kiva Fecteau

Stroyka Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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