Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Talk Radio

Liev Schreiber powers through the callers with an intensity like that of a genuine late night radio shock jock. The show is basically 90 minutes of his character, Barry Champlain on the radio taking calls, telling it like he sees it, turning up the heat and asking provocative questions on the eve of a deal that will take his local Ohio radio show national. What develops is the juxtaposition of Champlain's character on the radio versus real life - and the struggle to draw a clear line between the two.

Make no mistake, the show is scripted. The callers are all off-stage and are not a variable part of the show. One of my favorite entertainers - Christine Pedi - creates many of the voices. Actually there are 5 callers and they run the gamut of voices and personalities. On stage, there is a small supporting cast, including Stephanie March (ADA Alexandra Cabott - Law and Order SVU).

There was certainly an intensity to the performance - staged as if in a studio - with working microphones, hence the "deep radio voice" is broadcast to the audience as if we were actually listening to the radio.

The show, written by Eric Bogosian (SubUrbia, Law and Order CI) 20 years ago, doesn't seem to "shock" as much as it probably did 20 years ago. Today we're all used to Howard Stren and the likes. Yet there is a timeless story buried beneath the surface - the story about how Hollywood and the Media can make a star out of a character and how that real person and life behind the character can transform - or be transformed - by the circumstances.

My mother used to tell me not to believe everything I read. I'd consider extending that to everything you hear, too.