Pride goeth before a sound-level fall. That's the lesson -- and the theatrical pleasure -- in Radio :30, which traces the erosion of a cocky radio pitchman who finds himself fucked when guilt erupts from his subconscious.
A 1999 Fringe hit, Chris Earle's clever piece lays out the emotional and professional destruction of Ron (Earle) while he tapes an upbeat, innocuously boppy restaurant commercial. His unseen partner is technician Mike (Robert Smith), whose comments and increasingly distanced tone provide a barometer of Ron's changing fortunes.
Working with director Shari Hollett, Earle expertly sets up the comedy of the piece before allowing the small fissures in Ron's personality to become major structural cracks. Earle's created a piece, in fact, where much of the acting lies in tonal nuance. Combined with telling silences, the text exposes the manipulation of advertising agencies -- not a surprising point in itself -- but neatly parallels that satire with a spokesperson whose warm, friendly smile masks a rotten reality.
Earle turns the last 20 minutes into the icy unveiling of a con man who's fooled himself, an easy-going radio voice whose very language dries up. Don't miss it. JK
*RADIO :30, by Chris Earle, with Earle and Robert Smith, directed by Shari Hollett. Presented by the Night Kitchen at the Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman). Runs to October 22, Tuesday-Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday matinee 2:30 pm. $16-$19, Sunday pwyc. 531-1827. Rating: NNNN