The Fitzrovia Radio Hour team has set itself a high standard following its first show in Shoreditch - an enthralling, energetic blend of farcical mini-dramas, visual gags and inspired sound effects.
Happily, the company’s second show matches expectations with this new set of titillating tales going live to forties Britain.
The set-up is familiar - in a small ‘radio studio’, five smartly attired gentlemen and ladies with cut-glass accents perform three fantastical, supernatural tales, punctuated by the ingeniously inventive use of sound effect props, all timed to perfection.
Of the three ‘chilling’ presentations, the first two - London Under Ground and Ghost Train of Freaks - are the more successful. The opening story of a bickering middle-class couple stumbling upon a subterranean manor house and a creepy, secret society of pasty-faced individuals is joyously overdramatic and Geoffrey Lumb’s evil, cackling Mr Bond is both preposterous and inspired.
The second yarn is all jolly hockey sticks by the seaside as two plucky schoolboys take on a circus of, well, suspicious continentals trying to hypnotise local children for their own wicked ends. The superbly manic interplay between Alix Dunmore and Fiona Sheehan as the two diminutive heroes battling a motley freak show of baddies is perhaps the highlight of the evening.
Tale number three - about a cricketer who signs a pact with the devil - while amusing in parts, isn’t quite as effective and is the weakest story overall, in need of some tightening. This minor shortfall doesn’t detract from the overall success of the show, however, and the cast’s sheer enthusiasm and sense of fun ensure another captivating, witty hour.
Lines such as: “You’ll never get away with this you… foreigner” and “Stella, stop being a woman this instant” perfectly encapsulate Fitzrovia’s tongue in cheek, time-capsule brand of humour. If you are in Edinburgh this August, you’d be well advised to spend a few of your hard earned farthings and shillings down at the Underbelly.