Ape on the Mic

1930s–style radio drama fails to make waves

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King Kong
By Dan Bianchi
The Red Room
85 East 4th Street
212-868-4444
Turning King Kong into a live show might seem like a good idea, but Radiotheatre's staged adaptation of the Depression-era classic, done in a fast-talking 1930s radio-drama style, leaves viewers neither frightened nor fancying the hokey hilarity of monster romance. While the production has its charming moments (old-timey soundscapes, a fog machine), the overall effect of what should be a fantastical story is decidedly dull. Some actors are strong—particularly Mark Vance for his believable Brooklyn accent-—but others lag behind (an uncomfortable moment came in the show I attended when one performer enacted the Skull Island chief in "native tongue"; the audience's laughter bubbled forth out of squeamishness, not glee). The sound design, obviously a key component for radio theater, has some marvelous effects, though it often drowns out inaudible actors or features crashes that pierce the ears. While the play runs an hour and 15 minutes, it drags more like the three-hour 2005 remake. "It wasn't the airplanes, it was Beauty killed the Beast," says director character Charles Darrow at the end of both film and play. In this case, it was theater that killed the fun old movie.
 
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