Dr Gemma Regan
I'm a writer, arts reviewer, a scientist, a UFO researcher and a Radio host for 4ZZZ 102.1FM with my show The Witching Hour exploring the paranormal, conspiracy and the esoteric. www.4zzzfm.org.au/program/the-witching-hour
Be excited, scared and titillated through the medium of radi
A marvellous, cleverly-written memento to the magic of radio mysteries.
Mystery in the Air harkens back to the 'good ol' days' in 1947, when after dinner the family would gather around the radio in the front room to be excited, scared and titillated through the medium of radio dramas. It invites the audience behind the scenes of radio station 3UK, where the bumbling and appeasing radio veteran Clifton Plowdon, is portrayed splendidly by the comedy icon Michael Veitch. Storyteller Simon Oats is the 'man of a thousand voices,' as Tony 'the Ace' Hamilton, delighting the audience with his multiple characters in a live performance of two dramatic radio plays: Horror in the Wax Works; and Flash Gordon's Deep Space Drama. However, the drama off air is much thicker, when the drunken young cad Tony, pilot of the 33rd Air Squadron, overstays his welcome with his lack of professionalism, not to mention his fiendish womanising, drunkenness and a total disregard for Clifton, the upstanding radio play writer and performer. When Clifton discovers it is not only the Limelight he has shared with the cad Tony, he contrives to revise Ace's script to expose on air as the conniving bounder Tony really is, causing comical mayhem.
Michael Veitch is a household name to Australian audiences, starting in the 1980's writing and performing television comedy with programs including Fast Forward, Full Frontal and as the presenter for Sunday Arts on the ABC. He has been writing and performing Aussie comedy for decades, some of which hilariously reflected the lack of political correctness of the time. Michael's talents are not limited to television with his robust mellow tones perfect for radio. He has been a presenter in radio broadcasting for ABC Hobart and ABC 774 Melbourne and so could draw on his experiences while writing this play. His character Clifton, is a loveable middle-aged professional, who whilst comfortable on air, flitting easily between the evil Ming the Merciless and Ming's daughter Jasmine from Flash Gordon's Deep Space Drama, was being overlooked by Gordon, the station boss, despite his innovative ideas for radio.
Meanwhile, the cad 'Tony the Ace' took full advantage of Clifton's reluctance to be pushy, by roguishly stealing Clifton's limelight. Simon Oats was the ideal young philanderer. With his dashing good looks and swarthy confidence he made 'Lord Flashheart' from the BBC's Blackadder series seem like a pussycat in mittens! Simon's ability to tell a good yarn as a freelance storyteller, and with a decade of acting in theatre and TV including Blue Heelers, was perfect as 'the man with a thousand voices'. He seamlessly moved from American to eastern European, changing sexes in a heartbeat, whilst also interjecting with the slide whistle or taking swigs from a bottle of Moet.
The two characters literally fight out their differences in the second half, after a suspenseful and thrilling portrayal of Horror in the Waxworks, when the Mask of Medusa transforms visitors into new exhibits. In Flash Gordon's Deep Space Drama, Ace's doctored script has him making hilarious typo slips culminating in a comical punch-out with clapping sticks. The production is interspersed with adverts for cigarettes recommended by doctors, 1940's dance music, and the dreary Tubby Wharton with the daily financial update. Mystery in the Air does a convincing job of reproducing the post-war radio days, and was a marvellous, cleverly-written memento to the magic of radio mysteries.