Review – Open Spots

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"a buffet for your ears"

Audio recordings; a feast for the ears not the eyes? Well, apparently not when The Wireless Theatre are recording.

Open Spots follows the story of aspiring stand up comedian Sean Tomlinson in his quest for comedy fame. The narrative is interspersed with some entertaining stand up both from Sean and other colourful characters Sean comes into contact with at comedy gigs. This is a fairly well written piece and there are some great gags that had the audience regularly laughing. It is a subject that has been covered many times before and there are definitely a lot of comedy 'in jokes' but it makes for an amusing listen. The characters are likeable and in places the characterisation is extremely funny and while the dialogue does get a little wordy in parts, we have to remember that this was written as an audio drama so in this case actions definitely don't speak louder than words.

Open Spots was a one night only live recording of an audio drama. The actors had microphones and scripts and the focus was on the audio, the dialogue, the accents and the vocal rather than visual comedy. On paper this may sound boring to the viewer but in fact in proved entertaining. Visually, the performance looked like a cross between a rehearsed reading and an improv comedy night: all of the performers were on stage throughout. Performers were either acting at the front of the stage, reading from scripts placed on stands, or the back of the stage, patiently leafing through their scripts to keep up with the dialogue. While some of the performers were clearly not well practised in this style of performance: Stephen Hill had a tendency to mouth others lines (in his defence he did write them) and Kevin Haney regularly had his head stuck in his script, the five performers were well cast. Each came with their own rainbow of accents, a natural aptitude for vocal pacing and excellent comedic skills. Some managed to lift the characters from the page better than others and special mention must go to Neil Frost who almost stole the show with his eccentric characterisations. Ben Whitehead marked himself as the most experienced vocal performer and made some lovely character and voice choices. Stephen Hill and Kevin Haney, as the two main comedians formed a likeable duo and helped carry the piece. This male heavy cast was punctuated by Ashley McGure who held her own for the female quarter and seemed to have a particularly flair for sarcasm, to great comedic effect.

An interesting and humourous piece and worth a listen online. The Wireless Theatre Company are striving to engage the theatre going public with audio drama and this must be praised: this theatre goer is definitely engaged. A company to watch out for in 2012.

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