Sunday, July 8, 2007

Review: "Talk Radio"

As promised, my review of the Broadway play "Talk Radio."

Written by Eric Bogosian, it centers around an outrageous late-night radio host in Cleveland named Barry Champlain. His show is about to go national and yet his life appears to be falling apart. Over the course of the play, which takes place during one show, he smokes, drinks and berates his hapless callers. At one memorable point, a nihilistic young fan invades the studio and steals the show (in this case, both of them). The miserable Barry manages to somehow keep everything going while also breaking his girlfriend's heart and diffusing a package mailed in by a fan that may or may not be a bomb. It is a breakneck, "real-time" play, and the action never stops.

The play is overwhelming and powerful. Liev Schreiber is one of the best theater actors of his generation and he makes you both love and hate his Barry Champlain. The supporting cast is equally remarkable and they hold their own with him. My only quibble with the show is that the "Big Point" made at the end, its raison d'etre ... doesn't seem so very important. Its insightful but ultimately a weak one. However, besides that, "Talk Radio" is great entertainment, a memorable night of theater.

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