Since their last production that I saw, A View From The Bridge, Yuba College has been impressing me more and more often with the quality of their productions. From the actors, to the stage set design, to the lighting and sound, I have come to the conclusion that the Yuba College Theatre has gained a reputation of putting on great shows and fabulous performances.
Yuba College’s newest production, Talk Radio, directed by James Gilbreath, opened on October 6th. This play features Eli Fochs, a Yuba College acting returnee, in the role of Barry Champlain– the lively, abrasive, and slightly narcissistic host of “Night Talk”, a radio show in which he is never afraid to speak his mind. Accompanied by Heather Sutton as the assistant producer to the talk show, Linda Macarthur, Carl Weddle who plays Barry’s operator, Stu Noonan, Samuel Scott playing the executive producer of the show, Dan Woodruff, and a few others, Barry Champlain takes on his usual role of dramatic radio talk show host and unofficial therapist for his nightly callers.
This play takes place over the course of one eventful night’s radio show recording in Studio B of Sacramento’s top station, KTLK . Barry begins his show by taking callers, some who pester him with their small gripes, and others that demand answers to life’s biggest questions. To the majority of these callers, he simply mocks– which, to his regular listeners may be seen as a kind of charming intellect; newer listeners mainly find him unexpectedly offensive.
Kyle Kane, who plays Kent Brannigan, a very young, enthusiastic regular listener of Barry’s show, brings a lot of spirit and humor (along with some shouting and green hair) to the show. Amongst the sometimes dark themes of the play, there are many moments of well placed comedic relief. Many times throughout the play, I found myself slightly concerned about the direction of the plot in one moment, and then laughing at the contrastingly out-of-place humor in the next.
As an unusual addition, the theatre encourages the audience to participate in the show by using their phones. Rather than turning them off, the audience is encouraged to “talk to Barry.” Anyone in the audience is welcome to send him a message during the show by tweeting, texting, or using Facebook, and should expect a response during the performance. This gives some immersion for the audience; we can actually feel like we are apart of the story (as well as have an opportunity to possibly be taunted by the one and only Mr. Champlain during a live show).
Although the audience that night was small, it almost didn’t matter. The laughs were as big as if there was a full house, the audience was responsive, and the cast performed as if it was their last show.
If you haven’t already, make sure to come see the final matinee performance of Talk Radio, Sunday October 22 at 2 p.m. Be sure to bring your phones and your most philosophical questions– see what Barry has to say.