Review: Radio Variety Hour

Those artists of the airwaves Bert, Una and Herb are back (although Herb still isn’t getting paid) with another exciting episode of Radio Variety Hour; new installments of gritty Joan Jackson: Female Private Detective, the always mysterious Peculiar Avenue, and all new radio drama The Rock & Roll Children. Are you sitting comfortably around the wireless, children? Then let’s begin.

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In our first segment, Joan and her assistant Lorna are approached by the Director and Producer of Hollywood epic Robots, Robots, Those Darn Robots!; star performer Leonardo Delavega is refusing to leave his trailer, and they need Joan to bring things to a conclusion. If he continues the shoot, great. If he leaves, even better! Joan is drawn into a glamorous world of intrigue, but will the bright lights of tinsle town blind her as she seeks out the truth? Will Lorna get that autograph? Find out, in the gripping adventures of Joan Jackson: Female Private Detective.

Meet Mr. Warren. He enjoys a drink (or several), but when his long-pained wife invites the spirit-ed Mr. Regrso into their home, things take a turn for the supernatural. What else would you expect, though, this being Peculiar Avenue. A Christmas Carol-esque aesop follows, but when the hangover clears, what fate awaits? Are things really clearer though the bottom of a bottle?

A short musical interlude will follow, and I mean short, as Bert has magnanimously allowed Herb two minutes to perform a ten minute song. “Impossible!” you might say. Well, Herb is at least going to give it a shot.

Tonight’s final presentation, The Rock & Roll Children. Stephanie (“everyone calls me ‘Stiffi’) is the new girl in town. Trying to buy milk at a former orphange for children whose parents are in prison turn illegal milkbar, Stiffi is for the first time exposed to rock music, alcohol and smoking (they go so good together!). Will she choose the epically cool rockstar, or the surprisingly brooding and deep leader of the motorbike riding orphans? Only time (and a moterbike race) will tell.

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Being opening night, and also a live performance involving a huge variety of props to produce the homemade audio effects, there were a few things that weren’t – in their words – polished, but Lauren, Bert and Sam are all such pros that even when things go wrong, they go hilariously right. As a fan of the classic noir detective, I personally love Joan Jackson: Female Private Detective. I was vaguely reminded of Grease (especially that scene at the end when Oliva Newton-John catsuits up) and elements of Reefer Madness during The Rock & Roll Children. Herb’s musical number puts one in mind of when someone in the cast of Pirates of Penzance, following The Modern Major General, proclaims, “That’s all very well, but can you do it faster?”.

There’s something for everyone, and it’ll have you in stitches.

Lauren Bok, Bert Goldsmith and Sam Marzden in Radio Variety Hour is at the Butterfly Club at 7:00pm Tuesday – Sunday until April 17. Prices $28 – $32, discounts for Members and Groups of 6+.

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Nick Jones

Unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe. Writer/Observer.

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