Review: Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Martha Fromson 1 March 2013

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

ADC Theatre, Wed 27th February- Sat 2nd March, 11pm

This absurd comedy about a radio and the passionate love that FM (Tony Stuchfield), the man who performs the FM channels, bears for AM (Harriet Cartledge), the woman performing the AM channels was a real treat; utterly hilarious and original. AM and FM’s burgeoning love affair has to overcome firstly the tragic knowledge that that they can never physically meet, secondly the evil machinations of Deck, the scheming cassette player who wants AM for himself and thirdly the need to provide quality radio entertainment anytime their radio owner turns his set on. The resulting show was every bit as funny and bizarre as this plot line would lead you to expect.

Hilarious highlights included listening as FM and AM’s radio broadcasts became increasingly nonsensical and focused on their own lives and relationship to the increasing bewilderment of their owner, and the ridiculous but beautifully choreographed fight-scene, where AM and Deck fought off pirate radio broadcasters. The set designer Rosa Uddoh deserves credit for dividing the stage in half, with the AM and FM sides mirroring each other, which helped to cement the sense of AM and FM’s simultaneous closeness and impenetrable distance. The staging of their ‘date’, with each of them sitting in front of a cloth-covered table with a glass and bottle of wine by their side was beautifully done; it was one of the few soppy moments in the play.

The overall mood, however, was wonderfully light and funny. The potential for pathos inherent in AM and FM’s ‘long-distance’ relationship was very much played down, with the emphasis on silliness, bad radio puns, and exaggeration. The play left little time for serious reflection or romantic intensity, charging from one ridiculous scene to another, with the audience laughing all the way. Even the romantic ending, achieved through a neat deus ex machina (don’t worry, I won’t tell you what it was), was tempered with a humour and an unexpected twist.

The actors displayed some real comic talent. Stuchfield and Cartledge entertained the audience with an amazing array of different voices and presenting styles, switching seamlessly from the cultured tones of a BBC presenter to the melodrama and Welsh accent of a countryside soap opera. Deck (Marcus Martin) really made the show, with his over the top arrogance and evilness; he was the perfect comic villain! His crazy 80s outfit and excessive use of the smoke machine also added to his ostentatiously sinister appearance. Pod’s (George Longworth) appearance was brief, but very slick and polished. I applaud Trinity’s Magpie & Stump Comedy Society and hope to see more great things from them in the future.

Martha Fromson