Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Review: Talk Radio

By • Oct 23rd, 2005 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of the Dominion Stage performance of Talk Radio.

Laura: This is our review of Talk Radio performed by Dominion Stage in Arlington, Virginia this Sunday. It’s the story of a late night talk radio host who is doing his last show before going national and there’s some conflict.

Mike: Yeah, his producer wants him to do a good show because the sponsors who are paying for the national show are going to be listening and of course national sponsors don’t want conflict. But I think that’s what he does on Talk Radio. I think he’s a 1980’s version of Howard Stern.

Laura: I agree, he does have the long hair hippy look going for him.

Mike: It was three main characters. The DJ, his producer and his assistant. The two of them helped him on the air screening phone calls and giving him background messags and things like that. Couple minor characters. The producer came in a few times with messages from the sponsors. The rest of the cast were all callers.

Laura: They would call in at various stages in their life. You had the girl that just found out she was pregnant and her boyfriend is on the road somewhere. You had the alcoholic.

Mike: Everybody that you’d think would call in to a Jerry Springer type talk radio show was calling in. There were eight actors doing a bunch of different parts. Over the two hours of the show they came on different parts of the show at diffrent sections of the stage where there were chairs and separate lighting. And the DJ would say, “Ok Sam, you’re on the air.” And Sam woud pick up the phone and start talking. “Oh boy, am I on the air?” It’s all the things you hear on the radio. They did really well. The extras, the ensemble did a pretty good job with being on the air just like people are on the air when you listen to the radio.

Laura: I thought that was very well done. They got into character and they did their lines well.

Mike: They had mannerisms. The same person did three or four different parts and they were unique people. You can do a lot with costuming. One guy was in his underwear and one time he was a redneck. Another time he was a regular person. They did a good job with that. They were short parts, but there was a lot to remember because they had mannerisms and they had voices that were slightly different. One thing I didn’t like was they had four areas on the stage. Two downstage right near the audience and two upstage in the corners away from the audience. The two in the upstage position were too far away from you. They were the same weight as a caller as the front people. But because they were so far back they were harder to see and it was just awkward. I wish they could have been closer to the audience.

Laura: But being so far back they were too far removed from the action that was going on. Even though it was a telephone, but they were hard to see. But they did a good job of staying in character even when they were not the focal point. When another caller was talking, they were still in character which I thought was good.

Mike: The three main characters who were Barry Champlain, Linda MacArther, and Stu Noonan, the actors were John Adams, Barbara Raffaele, and Kevin Finkelstein. They did pretty good. I didn’t identify with them, though. I dj’d back in college so I kind of knew what to expect for some of that. Laura dj’d for awhile, too.

Laura: Yes, I dj’d after college and never felt close to any of the three characters.

Mike: I really didn’t care what happened to the DJ. He was the main character and he had a lot going on. I didn’t care. It didn’t come through his performance. His frustration that his character was feeling that was obvious at the end of the show. It just didn’t come through. That was a shame. There was a lot of potential with that part. There were two monologues that the two assistants did at different parts. The two monologues helped with those characters a lot. I wish we could have had a monologue with just the DJ.

Laura: That’s true that was one thing that was missing. That would have tied all three together in their parts.

Mike: Ok, we weren’t thrilled with the show. There is more to theater than just the show. One thing you’ll learn about the theater is they all have websites. Of course you have to buy a ticket. I don’t think there are any theaters that give away free tickets. And then there’s the playbill. The little thing you get when you enter the theater. The website for Dominion Stage needs some work. They need a volunteer so if you’d like to volunteer just give them a call or an email and help them out with their website. They need, for one to make it very obvious that for one the show is not held at 4700 Four Mile Run place. We went to the wrong place. Which started the afternoon out badly. Luckily, we were very early so we had time to find the right place. But there was only one sentence in small type on the website that says all the shows are somewhere else. The theater itself was fine because it was a high school, I think.

Laura: Think it was a middle school actually.

Mike: It was good, but getting there kind of put us in the wrong frame of mind for relaxing. We got there before the show started so we had time to read the playbill so it was fine. But the website needs some work. It was multiple fonts, different sizes. The Gunston Arts Center is in small type. They’re using a template from someone and it just doesn’t work. It gets the point across, but there is just too much going on. It’s very busy and they need some design work on their website.

Laura: The thing I would like to talk about is the expense of the tickets. The cost of the ticket was $17. So for two people it was $34. I don’t think it was worth $34 to see that show.

Mike: I think this was more an $8 show. I wish it could have beeen less expensive. It was a lot.

Laura: There were no scene changes. No intermission so they went straight through.

Mike: It’s the first one we’ve scene without an intermission for this season at least. That was kind of nice. They went straight through like a radio show. They had commercial which was when some of the action took place. That was kind of nice not having an intermission. It was only two hours and 20 minutes.

Laura: That was good, but it was a bit much for $34.

Mike: And I’d like to talk about the playbill they handed out at the door. Again the quality was uneven. The jacket was printed on heavy yellow paper, but it was printed on an ink jet printer. This is 2005, we’re out of ink jet for this. I think they needed to color them. It fuzzed up because the paper obsorbed the ink and it just looks bad. Also the inside front cover of page one. There is a line missing at the bottom of the page. They have directed by, the play is performed without intermisssion, the setting is the radio station WTLK. Then it says TIME: and nothing. Somewhere I think we read it was 1987. That’s not even on this it’s on the website or another review of Talk Radio we read somewhere else. There are too many fonts. Beside the logo and the title of the page there are seven different type faces on the one page. It’s very busy. They are different sizes, bold and unbold not consistant. The play is performed without intermission not the same italicized the whole line. When you go into the body of the paper, different font sizes. The white space is important on the about production staff page. They’ve got white space not consistent between the paragraphs of the different people that were involved. Consistency is alot of what this is. Then you go to the next page which is the membership contribution page and again you’ve got multiple fonts in bold and not bold. You’ve got errors in the dollar amounts for the different amounts of giving. It just looks like it was thrown together. I wish they could be a step up and do it more professionally.

Mike: Yes, I agree.

Mike: So all in all this performance of Talk Radio, performed by Dominion Stage in Arlington. I don’t think you need to go to. It’s got one more week playing in Arlington. I don’t think you need to go to it.

Laura: It was not worth the $34.

Mike: For $34 you can go see almost any other show and have a really good time. You can have a good time with this show. It does give you topics to talk about. It does have adult language and adult situations so you don’t want you don’t want to bring the kids. You could probably bring a highschooler because it does raise a lot of points that kids should be talking about. The media and how the media affects them. If you get too much media it overwhelms your brain and you just turn off listening. Mixed message on this show, but all in all I don’t think you need to go see it I hate to say.

Laura: I would agree. And now, on with the show.

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3 Responses »

  1. Oh.



    I have never heard such an atrocious review in my life.

    BTW: in the interest of full disclosure, I was a cast member of “Talk Radio”.

    And, frankly, I don’t care that you didn’t like the show. That’s not why I’m commenting.

    What bothers me is that you obviously have no theatre background or qualifications to actually review a play. If you did, you would have certainly been familiar with the show (at least have read the script). Then you could have been able to accurately deconstruct the production you saw. The fact that you didn’t even know the time period the show was set in (1985) proves that you do not have even the rudimentary skills to be a theatre reviewer who can be taken seriously.

    You fell into the oh-so typical trap that novice theatre reviewers often fall into: you gave a synopisis of the play but never deconstructed the production itself. We were told you didn’t like the staging. You did like the ensemble but not the principles. We never learned WHY. All we heard was your not-very-informed opinion with no substance. Now you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but that hardly gives you the credentials to tell total strangers that this show isn’t worth attending.

    What stunned me into a near stupor was the fact that you “reviewed” the website of the theatre company and the program for the show. Excuse me? Where did that come from? I cannot recall in my over 30 years of theatre experience having a review include commentary on the website (!) and the show’s program. I am so at a loss as to how to respond to that I’ll just have to leave it alone.

    I’m sorry you feel you didn’t get your money’s worth. I didn’t know ticket prices were predicated on the number of acts or intermissions in a play. “Talk Radio” is hardly the only play to run without an intermission. My advice to you is to get out a little more often.

  2. It was just ok – for local/high school theater. Audience seemed disinterested, but maybe they just had a bad meal before hand.

    Maybe this play was more compelling/relevant 20 years ago?

  3. Hi Mary. I just posted the transcript of our review of Talk Radio. Yes, this was one of our early reviews. And we’ve learned a lot since then. It was wrong of us to tell people not to see Talk Radio. I apologize for that. There were parts of the show we liked, and parts we didn’t. It was an uneven performance.

    We do say why we didn’t like the placement of the upstage callers. It was hard to see, plus those callers were too removed from the main action.

    Well, now you have seen a review of the web site and playbill. Hopefully the playbill will be better at the next show. The web site could still use some tweaking. For example, if someone gives $399 are they a backer or a devotee? Or $650 are they a devotee or an angel?