2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival—Radio Variety Hour

Posted on 30 September 2013

I grew up where we had a radio station that played the old radio shows. I loved listening to episodes of The Shadow or comedy by the likes of Burns & Allen. More recently I’m a big fan of Prairie Home Companion which is a contemporary radio program using an old-time format.

Radio Variety Hour isn’t an original concept, but it is well executed and a load of fun. Lauren Bok, Sam Marzden, and Bart Goldsmith form the team playing radio performers in the era when TV began taking over. This provides the context within which the audience is treated to a detective story, a space opera, an urban fantasy, and a bit of crooning.

The stories have a fresh light charm, performed with tongue firmly in cheek. I loved that each one had a different member of the troupe take the lead. Bok was delicious as the “lady detective”. Her radio karate was masterful. Sam Marzden was hilarious as King of the Cat People. He positively shone when lampooning mid-century balladeers. I hope in the future he does a show where he plays a young Harry Secombe. Bart Goldsmith as the anti-hero of a Twilight Zone styled segment brought a nice sense of drama to his doomed ne’er-do-well.

Also worth noting was the live foley. It’s always great fun seeing how the sounds that lend verisimilitude to a show are produced. That poor cabbage certainly received a beating.

Radio Variety Hour is a great night out. Grab a date, have a pizza, then round the evening out with this show. You will definitely score points. Producer Ben Vernel has every reason to be proud of this work.

Melbourne Fringe website: Radio Variety Hour

Peace and kindness,


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