Shaken Theatre’s Wasteland Radio is a meandering experiment that occasionally reaches points of clarity in spite of itself.
The story itself is straightforward: After a supervolcano erupts and causes a chain reaction of environmental disasters, the human race is more or less wiped out save one man, who has found an abandoned radio station with an emergency generator and broadcasts from it constantly, hoping to reach out to other survivors.
The concept is simple and solid, but something is lost in the execution. Although the focus of the show is clearly supposed to be the broadcasts made by our nameless hero, often he turns to the audience in full “one-man show” mode, explaining seemingly pointless stories of life before the eruption. Although these stories do turn out to matter to the plot in the end, the total lack of tension until the climactic finale results in a show that feels listless and unfocused.
Sam Dietrich faces a heavy task playing a survivor who may or may not be the last man on earth. While he seems to have fully embraced this role, transitions between characters (there are several impressions of long-dead people from his life) aren’t as clean as they should be and there are moments where he dances that should probably be cut.
The most frustrating aspect of this show is that the questions that would usually accompany the scenario of “last man on earth” aren’t fully addressed. It’s clear enough that our hero hopes to find at least one other person still alive, but he himself has surprisingly few character traits. Does he go insane, desperately clinging to the fragments of civilization while blindly hoping for other survivors despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Not exactly, but he does talk to a picture he keeps on his desk. Admittedly the picture turns out to have some importance, but it introduces an extremely important theme – human nature, once law and order are removed – far too late in the show for it to have its full impact.
Overall, Wasteland Radio feels more like a workshop production than a fully ready Fringe show. Hopefully it may make an appearance at another festival in the next year or two, after the bugs have been tweaked.
A Shaken Theatre Production
Featuring: Sam Dietrich and Marc-Alexandre Hudson
Directed by: Jameelah Rahey
Concept by: Andrew Palangio
Written by: Sam Dietrich, Shawn Doherty, Andrew Palangio
Lights and Sound: Lewis Caunter
Set, Props, & Costumes: Emily Soussana
Technicians: Dillon Rogers, Carolyn Barnes
Upcoming Shows: (Venue #1: Arts Court Theatre)
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