Best of 2006: Radio

Its achievement is unquestionable

★★★★
archive review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 09 Jul 2007

Radio is a story of the birth, life and death of one young man’s American dream, all told in a perfectly manageable 45 minutes. As anti-Americanism is second only to Cabaret and Burlesque in this year’s fashionable genre league tables, one may be forgiven for expecting little from this rather over-worked subject matter. However, these fears are quickly dispelled. As the story unravels it becomes clear that the apparently innocuous monologue actually carries in it some more serious connotations. Al Smith has undoubtedly been successful in re-creating the hope, prosperity, and ultimately the disappointments of early post-war America, from the joys of mindless patriotism and its immense popularity in 1950s, to the depressing reality check ushered in by the 1960s flag burning age.

As a play, its achievement is unquestionable. The only real criticism of Radio may me made in the one-man performance, but even here there is little to fault. Despute his slightly shaky American accent, his performance was for the most endearing and engaging. This might not be first on your list of plays to see, but is certainly a pleasing way to spend the afternoon and will hopefully stimulate a bit of nostalgia for those ‘good old days’, when flying to the moon was no longer a dream, and America was the centre of the universe. Maybe things haven’t changed so much after all.