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Fitzrovia Radio Hour
Published on Saturday, 14 August 2010

4 stars

Underbelly, Cowgate (venue website)
Until 29 Aug (not 23), 3:40pm (4:40pm); 17 Aug, 3:01am (4:01am)
Reviewed by Trystan Davies

Did video kill the radio star?  If The Fitzrovia Radio Hour is anything to go by, then no.  Just go back to the 1940’s, when radio waves were cutting-edge and imagination was everything. Luckily, the Fitzrovia do this for us.

Fitzrovia are three gents and two ladies who, like many comedians, believe that the straight-laced and stuffy are there to be laughed at.  This is done at a 1940’s-style studio using period costume, props, and accompanying accents.

The Radio Hour is story time, and my favourite tale was the dramatic Mudmen From The Thames, which had  pacey momentum, energy and great timing.  As with any lampoon everything’s exaggerated, but the Fitzrovia manage to understate this so it doesn’t become silly or insulting.  The few but funny jokes on  war-time prejudice (for example, against women and regional accents) prove that less is definitely more.  I felt, however, that the show was let down by The Man Who Was Ten Minutes Late, which was confusing and lacked big laughs.

The show got over its message that 1940’s radio was quaint, quirky – but hilariously restrained at the same time.  It was also full of the charm and authenticity of early radio entertainment, managing to balance mockery and respect to create an unique package.  However, I did have mixed feelings about the venue, which sometimes felt like a period air raid shelter – small, intimate but unfortunately hot and stuffy. 

The Fitzrovia is an original idea, and can hold its own against other comedies dealing with radio – the most recent being the critically acclaimed (and very different) Ivan Brackenbury's Hospital Radio Roadshow.  Overall, despite the lack of big laughs, there were enough giggles for the performers to get a long and audible round of applause at the end.  So, be a good chap, switch off your black-and-white TV... and tune into the thrilling tales of The Fitzrovia Radio Hour!

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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