'Talk Radio' Leaves a Lasting Impression

With its last performance this past Sunday, at the Santa Monica College Theater Arts Sound Stage, the cast and crew of "Talk Radio" put in a little extra oomph to make it a special showcase for all to enjoy.

On Sunday, Oct. 19, the Santa Monica College Theater Arts produced play, "Talk Radio," a play by Eric Bogosian, drew in a crowd at Sound Stage 1A for the last time to showcase a magnificent performance from its lead actor, George Torres.

The play, which differs in plot from its critically acclaimed film counterpart of the same name, is a revival of the Eric Bogosian written and acted portrayal of Alan Berg, a shock jock radio talk show host whose aggressive and liberal rants led to his murder at the hands of a neo-Nazi fascist.

Although the play never mentions the fate or murder of Eric Bogosian's character, the same witty, edgy and obnoxious demeanor can be seen in the Oliver Stone directed masterpiece film adaptation.

The play starts in the waning moments of a 1987 broadcast with the topic about tax alleviation.

After the host finishes his bit, Barry Champlain, a shock jock whose angry perspective on life and the world, comes storming in, after being stuck in traffic for an insurmountable time, to host his nightly broadcast talk show.
Champlain is a shock jock, whose verbose bravado and witty style sometimes angers his callers with topics on politics, gender, environmental issues, and anti-Semitism.

Over the course of a night's broadcast, on the night before the first nationally syndicated show to be aired by the station, Champlain receives crazed calls from whacked out listeners. He can't handle it and breaks down telling all his listeners that he despises them and their "lower than muck" topics.

The rich yet common language dialog between the main event taking place, only adds to the depth of the story.

From all the soliloquy-like monologues the main cast member had to Champlain's meltdown, all within the span of one broadcast, never ceased to amaze or lose any of audience's attention for the nearly two hour long production.

Although there were a few mistakes such as including brand name props that never existed in 1987, the acting and powerful performances from the cast diverted any attention to the minor details of the show.
The superb voice talents of a few cast members that served as the callers of the show put the audience in the middle of the action from the first moment it started.
The stage set-up was constructed in a square shape, which sat the audience only a few feet away from the actors on stage.
Although the cast members delivered the true success of the show through their collective performances on stage, the main star who shined brightest of them all was the lead actor, George Torres.

Torres, 24, has starred in another university produced play and two student films over the last six years. Playing the role Bogosian wrote and eventually starred in was a daunting task for the student actor. He performed with a high level of intensity from start to finish.

The performances were full of vigorous, intense and clever moments from the first lines to the last bow to the audience.
Other notable performances were from Kelley Evans, who plays a producer on the show and Champlain's love interest; Paul Charron, the production manager who was behind the deal that will send the show into national syndication; Justuce Heninger, the standing operator who redirects callers to Champlain's show and is an old friend of Champlain; and Drew Gatto, who plays a wild teenaged caller that ends up being a guest on the show and causes ruckus around the studio.

To sum things up, the play gave its last audience a fun and enjoyable time that left a lasting memory on what certain forms of media can do to a person's psyche. It gets a score of 7.5/10 in my scorebook for a SMC produced play.