"The Return of Radio Goggles" (Oracle Theatre): Something to See!

"The Return of Radio Goggles" (Oracle Theatre):  Something to See!

#144. Back in the olden days… Before we could watch movies on our cellphones, Ipads, and televisions, people huddled around their radios to listen to weekly serials.  With only auditory, they had to imagine how the story unfolded visually.  Last summer, Oracle invented a way to look back at past radio shows and really see what was going on.  And this summer, they’re bringing it back.

Oracle Productions presents THE RETURN OF RADIO GOGGLES.  The original audio from three different radio shows is used as the basis for this triple play.

“The Parade”, episode 3 from X MINUS ONE

Original airdate: May 1, 1955

Directed by Laura K. Smith

Martians hire a PR firm to announce their invasion.  The PR firm thinks the campaign is a movie stunt.  And they become seduced by the cash.  It’s “Mad Men” meets “Independence Day.”  In the lead, Tim Larson (Syd Ryan) is the fast talking ad guy.  But of course, it’s not his voice!  Larson is dead-on mimicking the slick operator.  He goes from over-confident to panicky with animated facial expressions.  His performance is transfixing.  Director Laura K. Smith stages this show with a steady build-up. Parade scenes are silhouetted behind screens to illustrate marching crowds.  “The Parade” entertains with a surprisingly timeless publicity angle.

“The Hitchhiker”, episode 5 from SUSPENSE

Original airdate: September 2, 1942

Directed by Brendan Balfe

A guy drives from Brooklyn to California.  On his trip, he keeps seeing the same hitchhiker waving him to stop.  The coincidence is starting to make him crazy.  Director Brendan Balfe, from Silent Theatre Company, deviates from the *Radio Goggle shtick* and has his cast not mimic the radio-scripted words. Instead, the white-faced, dark-lipped ensemble use their physicality to connect to the story.  The choice is effective but not as captivating. The timing in delivering lines is so impressive in the other two shows.   This one seems an easier gig for an actor.  Still, Evan Sierminski does an amazing job of losing it.  Sierminiski transforms from mild-mannered-mama’s-boy to paranoid-crazed-psycho.  “The Hitchhiker” is a supernatural mystery that keeps me guessing until the end.

“Hoppy Meets His Match”, episode 78 from HOPALONG CASSIDY

Original airdate:  June 30, 1951

Directed by Lyndsay Kane

Hopalong and his sidekick, California, are cowboys on the trail of adventure.  This time, their paths cross with a Princess.  She believes Hopalong is a prince in disguise and forces him to marry her.  Director Lyndsay Kane stages this old time western with hints of buffoonery.  A laidback Martin Green (Hopalong) is the steadfast hero.  His grounded performance allows a goofy Eli Branson (California) and divalicious Sarah Pretz(Princess) to muck it up for hilarity.  Bryan Campbell (Delvin) even gets into the slapstick  ending playing off Pretz‘s height.  “Hoppy Meets His Match” is homespun fun.

RETURN OF RADIO GOGGLES *is* your grandpa’s radio programming but in 3-D quality.  Oracle’s second installment on its clever old-fashion-modern-invention is a perfect summer pastime.  I’m looking forward to the 2013 production in the trilogy.

Oracle Theatre is Public Access Theatre.  Tickets are free.  And donations are appreciated.  As part of its mission, Oracle reaches out to those who can’t come to theatre.  During its run, Oracle will take RETURN OF RADIO GOGGLES on the road to area nursing homes. Awwwww!  Oracle is a tough act to follow!

Running Time:  Ninety minutes with no intermission

At Oracle Theatre, 3809 N. Broadway

Directed by Laura K. Smith, Brendan Balfe, Lyndsay Kane

Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays at 8pm

Thru August 4th

Reserve Tickets at www.oracletheatre.org

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