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Murder on the Wireless

"What Murder on the Wireless lacks above all is some kind of subtext"

Audrey review: A genial but shallow tribute to the era of the wireless serial transports its audience to a radio studio, circa 1959.

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Category: Theatre
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Murder on the Wireless

Date: 13 Jun 2019

This genial but shallow tribute to the era of the radio serial transports its audience to a homely-looking studio, circa 1959.

Two plays are to be ‘broadcast’. The first, adapted from Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist by Mark Kilmurry, takes Sherlock Holmes (Kilmurry) and Dr Watson (Daniel Mitchell) to rural Farnham to solve an intrigue involving a Miss Violet Smith (Georgie Parker), a moustachioed stalker on a bike and a plot to gain control of a fortune.

The second is The Dead(ly) Wives Club (wholly by Kilmurry), a John Buchan-esque entanglement to be solved by the suave and amicably divorced private detectives Ridley Jones (Kilmurry) and Teresa Scott (Parker).

The stories being told aren’t of any great interest in themselves. The Solitary Cyclist has some wheezy charm but neither is a strong example of a radiophonic script and The Dead(ly) Wives Club is a clunker.

What entertainment value there is lies in the process of radio production and particularly in the work of the sound effects artist (played here by Katie Fitchett), who scores each story using an unlikely battery of instruments. A kitchen whisk serves for a speeding bicycle. The screeching tyres of Ridley Jones’s MG are conjured from a wet balloon.

But that only sustains interest for a short while. What Murder on the Wireless lacks above all is some kind of subtext. We observe actors reading their scripts into microphones but there’s nothing going on between them.

There are hints. Mitchell’s character has sneaked in a hip flask. Fitchett looks mildly cheesed off at times. But beyond that there’s no tension and little interplay beyond the camaraderie of actors going about an occasionally frantic but largely undemanding job.

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