nytheatre.com review by Dan Asher
August 15, 2004
“Ever had a really bad day? Ever wondered…why?" The proceeding question grows more and more prophetic as Radio: 30 plays itself.
Ron, a voice-over artist and the industry's “go-to guy” du jour, serenely sits in the recording booth waiting for a session to start. He’s been hired to be the voice for a thirty-second radio commercial, something he always does without incident, regularly and successfully. He’s a shoo-in to help you sell your product because he does that “Ron thing.” He makes you feel good by smiling at you with his voice.
Ron seems like a happy guy. He seems happy with his choice to have given up trying to make it as an actor to “do what he does now.” (The uncomfortable laughs and/or groans following this line immediately outed audience members also in the industry.) We share the minutes before a recording session with Ron while he tells, us among other things, how much he enjoys the few moments of pure, delicious silence that a sound-proof studio affords. A reprieve from the hectic world outside. It becomes apparent that what Ron really needs is a break from the even louder turmoil going on between his ears.
You see, “Ever had a really bad day? Ever wondered……why?” is the opening line to the script that Ron’ recording, and today the “Ron thing” isn’t quite cutting it: Ron is having a bad day. And he's not handling well. The client, representatives from the ad agency, and any number of unseen technicians in the booth aren’t quite satisfied with his performance. As he receives direction, script changes, and criticism, each unsuccessful take peels off a little more of Ron’s psyche's defenses.
In between these takes, Ron tells us what starts off as a biographic recap of his life, including a story of how he slept with his best friend’s wife. It seems like it might be the first time he is confronting his guilt on the issue, and this, coupled with the increasing displeasure with his performance in the studio that day, feeds a breakdown of un-Ron-like proportions.
Watching Ron (played by Chris Earle, who also penned the piece) slowly lose his grip is funny, but at the same time uncomfortable. It is a fine, multilayered performance. Kudos also go to the offstage voice of Mike (Robert Smith) the studio technician. Radio :30 first appeared in 1999, and is a production of Toronto-based Night Kitchen. The actors have managed to keep it as fresh as ever and except for some moments in the middle, director Shari Hollet moves the play along swiftly—as tight as a good thirty-second commercial spot.