Dr. Frightful Presents: Dead Air (Neverending Highway Productions) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

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Dr. Frightful Presents: Dead Air is a tribute to old-timey radio. In this Toronto Fringe Festival show, four actors work their way through a Friday-night double feature in which the walking dead overtake America, town by town. Augmented by live sound effects and slapstick comedy, audiences will gasp, shriek and chuckle while they squirm over the evening’s key questions: will our intrepid radio heroes make it to the Safe Zone, or will the actors kill each other first?

Grahame Kent, Morgan Murray, Danielle Spilchen and Robert Grier each play members of the troupe, and all play well together: a late-breaking moment of physical comedy shows this ensemble at their best.

Co-creator Kent, in a role best described as “the silent voice”, demonstrates a knack for comic timing and a cartoonishly elastic face, which he uses to tremendous effect. But it’s Spilchen who really blew me away, bringing a surprising feminist angle to a character who might otherwise not have much to do: she looks perfect and dangerous and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Trouble is, we seem to spend far too much of Dead Air watching the actors read lines — which just isn’t very interesting. The creators clearly understand zaniness — “communist zombies”? think of the possibilities! — but for some reason this understanding rarely crossed over to the show-within-the-show.

The in-house sound effects are delightful; wish there had been more, and I wish we could see them.

If you’re looking for something light and funny, and don’t mind bumpy pacing, there’s a lot to like about Dead Air. The actors are strong, there are several piss-your-pants moments, and it’s definitely worth a $10 punt.


Dr. Frightful Presents: Dead Air plays the Randolph Theatre. (736 Bathurst Steet, near Bathurst & Bloor.)

Performance Dates
July 05 at 01:45 PM
July 06 at 10:30 PM
July 08 at 03:15 PM
July 10 at 07:30 PM
July 11 at 03:30 PM
July 12 at 12:30 PM

Tickets for all mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only. Advance tickets are $12, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West). Money-saving value packs are also available if you are going to at least five shows; see website for details.

LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.