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A CurtainUp Review
By Elyse Sommer
Schreiber enters a tall, slim ready to explode human firecracker in a hooded sweatshirt. His relationship to those two microphones on his desk, his restless impatience with and disdain for his callers, and his own self-destructive despair (fuelled by chain smoking, swigs of Jack Daniels, and lines of cocaine) are absolutely mesmerizing to watch. By the time the fireworks of the broadcast (that turns out to be the one to determine whether the Cleveland show will be nationally syndicated) are over, you're exhilaratingly exhausted from watching this man literally wipe himself out before your eyes.
While Schreiber could carry the show all by himself (and essentially does), at a top price just under $100, audiences deserve to see this actor's super star power boosted by a solid, visually exciting, sharply directed production. Director Robert Falls, set designer Mark Wendland and the actors playing Barry's radio station colleagues and the various callers (including an impressive turn by Sebastian Stan as a wild, zonked out teenager who makes an actual appearance) deliver on all counts.
Bogosian's play may not be on a par with some of Falls' previously revived dramas like Arthur Miller's Death of a Saleman and Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, but the director has retained the best of its acerbic intensity by sticking with the original text and letting the audience do its own mental updating. Mark Wendland's authentic recreation of a radio station, with the broadcasting room backed by a glassed-in booth enables us to watch the technical staff's comings and goings. The set also helps the director to smoothly integrate the monologues from Barry's assistant and occasional lover Linda MacArthur (Stephanie March), station manager Dan Woodruff (Peter Hermann) and friend Stun Noonan (Michael Laurence) who acts as the switchboard to ban or put through the callers.
The monologues are basically unnecessary diversions, but thanks to the peppy staging and the actors delivering them, they do shed some light on the complicated Champlain personality — notably Linda's ironic conclusion to her monologue about her off-duty relationship with Barry ("Barry Champlain is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there") and the Dan's description of himself as a sort of racehorse trainer, with Barry likened to a train rather than a horse ("I put him on the track. I keep him on the track. . . I let him go as fast as he can. The faster the better").
Good and attractive as the support cast is, this is so much Schreiber's show that you're likely to miss some of the by-play in that back booth because you're so fixated on his character — the impatiently twitching knees, the drugs and drink taking their toll, the anger and, finally, the pain. It's a role that has best actor awards written all over it.
Talk Radio/Bogosian, Eric
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide