February 17th, 2023Stepping back in time
Words: Karen Hunt
The Mount Players are stepping back in time with the adaption of a comedy
2022 marked the 100th anniversary of radio broadcasting – the BBC, then called
2LO, made its first broadcast in November 1922. Australia followed a year later.
Within just a couple of years listeners were enjoying a “theatrical experience”
without leaving their own homes as radio plays took to the air, providing a wealth of
inexpensive entertainment as well as worthy competition to the new talking movies
(‘talkies’) sweeping the world.
Actors wearing tuxedos and Brylcreemed hair, actresses in long gowns, dressed to
the nines, would gather round a microphone, often in front of a live audience, while
sound effects people created the appropriate noises to convince their audience that the
characters really were on a mountain top, in a train or on a battlefield, and present a
theatrical performance just on a canvas of sound.
The production format remains much as it has been for the last century. A small
group of actors playing multiple parts around a microphone, aided and abetted
by one or two sound effects people producing sounds in a most creative and often
unexpected way. Crumpling vegetables, punching cabbages, splashing in tubs of
water, usually accompanied by technical staff with a library of recorded sounds.
The Mount Players’ first production for 2023 is a BBC radio play based on the
1935 Hitchcock thriller The 39 Steps.
Director John Rowland promises to take the current audience, as the live audience in a BBC radio studio, on a thrilling, riotous and hilarious journey. The play contains every legendary scene from the award-
winning movie including the chase on the Flying Scotsman, the escape on the Forth
Bridge, the bi-plane crash and the sensational death-defying finale in the London
Palladium. The play runs from Friday, February 24 to Sunday, March 12.
Fifty per cent of takings from the Thursday, March 2 night performance will be
donated to Gisborne Foodbank. Cash and food donations can be left in the foyer at
Details and tickets: www.themountplayers.com or 5426 1892.