Radio Is Dead | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Radio Is Dead 

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Radio is Dead, Pipedream Productions. The premise seems packed with possibilities: writers Erik Lobo and Michael Pulliam parody sappy old-time radio adventure shows in a one-act live radio broadcast, filling their script with sly comments on the influence of TV on American culture--in their world, TV is a Nazi plot to rot our minds and sap our strength. You've got a Gen-Xer's Firesign Theatre or a 90s version of David Mamet's The Water Engine, right?

Wrong. Lobo and Pulliam don't have the depth or coherence of Mamet or the fertile wit of the insane Firesign Theatre guys. What they have is 90 minutes of stage time, which they fill with done-to-death live radio rituals, lame takeoffs on radio advertising, and a flat satire of The Shadow that fails to make fun of the original's most preposterous elements, such as the hero's annoying omnipresence, which kills suspense. Nor are they able to make more than the most pedestrian jokes out of the fact that the show's grandiose star, Claude Cain, doesn't even show for the broadcast. Lobo and Pulliam milk this for a few frantic jokes at the beginning, then drop it as the cast manages, with a remarkable ease that destroys comedy, to put on the show without him. One wonders why Cain's even on the payroll. But then there's a lot to wonder about in a script as full of holes as this one. And a lot of time to think about it given the infrequent laughs.

-- Jack Helbig

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