Living Radio (Kraine Theater, online)

Reviewing the Labor Day edition of this collection of radio plays – you can access this and previous editions here – took me into the heart of the news as seen by Kraine Theater.

Living Radio is performed at Frigid New York on the first Monday of each month, featuring five plays across a running time of approximately an hour. It has just returned after an absence of three years.

Inspiration is taken from a news article published in the previous few days, and for the Labor Day edition, someone “must perform an intense physical task” and “the tables must turn”.

I am reviewing from a video stream of this show (received with thanks), which gave me a sense of how the process works – and incidentally, captured in excellent quality.

Production photo from Living Radio

On the menu for this edition were:

tHE gLITCH by Duncan Pflaster, directed by Aliza Shane, performed by Mila Besson, Jason Hewett, and Erin Soler (13 min)

When Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican, freezes during a public appearance, further questions are asked.

Is the veteran politician (“McAfee”) an android? Very funny and pointed satire on a major figure past his prime, misinformation, technology, and generational influence.

Sunmer Rising by Edmond Malin, directed by Sheree V. Campbell, performed by Campbell, Alexandra Cremer and Wyn Delano (10 min)

Trump’s defence as “the first honest person in the world” and North Korea’s nuclear threats come together in a perceptive piece that notes that the country never says no, only “not yet.”

Presenting the world’s great leaders as warmongers and narcissists, this piece takes aim by impersonation at easy targets, with some success, although perhaps we are now suffering from Trump fatigue.

The Beehive by Roddy MacInnes, directed by John Noel, performed by Noel, Mike Durell and Jared Pesciotta (15 min)

When 5 million bees fall off a truck, help is sought. This is an animal case of insects “angry and homeless” with beekeepers coming to the rescue.

An absurdist and enjoyable piece imagines a strike by honeybees who bring their demands to the table. “I am Harvey Beeman. I speak for the bees.” Ridiculous wordplay throughout makes this a little gem.

Unstable Connections by Ilana Ybgi, directed by Robert A. K. Gonyo, performed by Alex Benjamin, Turquoise Olezene and Sarah Schoofs (6 min)

Mitch McConnell’s ‘freeze’ is inspiration yet again for this tiny skit, mainly focusing on the pause, the rebooting, and a musing on the failure of tech.

Funnier to watch than listen to, although it has its moments.

The Keepers Are With The Bees by Jen Browne, directed by Emily White, performed by Ebony Kennedy, Jason Wang and Olivia Webb (11 min)

The bees are back, and this piece gives their point of view on the truck incident (“my fellow pollinators”).

A buzzing revolution is underway, with all the bees standing together to “fight or die,” and are keepers there too? Could have been sharper, but it is fairly amusing with excellent sound effects.

Production photo for Living Radio

As a UK listener, I wasn’t sure I would appreciate items of news from another country, but the writing was good enough to remove any concerns.

These are quick sketches and stories that work well together, written over a few days and delivered with style. Living Radio darts between impro and playwriting at speed.

In the UK, we have the NewsRevue at Canal Cafe Theatre, which uses sketches and songs to lampoon the news, honouring a long tradition going back to That Was The Week That Was.

Living Radio may well become part of my routine listening in the future. Free to listen each month with previous editions available here.


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