FRINGE REVIEW: The Hear Again Radio Project

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lindsay-harris-friel.thumbnail.jpegBY LINDSAY HARRIS-FRIEL FRINGE CORRESPONDENT Aspire Arts keeps it simple and sets the bar high with The Hear Again Radio Project. In this show, they take drama from before video killed the radio star and present it live, with a Foley artist onstage setting the scene with live sound effects. Seems pretty easy, right? Then, director Darin Dunston picks up this concept and takes it to the next level.  The visual elements of The Hear Again Radio Project are as smooth and elegant as a silk robe slipping from the shoulders of Rita Hayworth. Michael Leon’s set comprised of Asian screens, pink rugs and period furniture, evokes lush décor, and the nostalgia continues to warm you with Jessica Reed’s exquisitely detailed period costume and makeup. It’s a bright world in this lovely box, balancing the darkness of the stories. You can hear influences of David Lynch when something as simple as a tea strainer becomes a sinister talisman, and in particular Jen MacMillan’s gradual, painful descent into madness through Suspense’s episode, “The Copper Tea Strainer.” More ambitious is that the show can be downloaded for your listening pleasure at Aspire Arts’ website, so the episodes presented can be heard again and shared. As Dunston says in his director’s note, this production will cause you to use completely different parts and systems of your brain than current technology makes us use. The elegant visuals will charm you, as will the original music, and J. Michael Stafford’s sound design will surprise you. There is so much going on here that you will learn something about how you pay attention.  Don’t lose touch with the story. If you’re a fan of Mad Men, this is indeed your show; it’s smooth, lovely, and compelling, with a very dark undercurrent.

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