Talk Radio at the New Theatre
October 28, 2013
Eric Bogosian’s 1987 text, Talk Radio, has much to say to an Irish audience. Its anti-hero, a late night radio talk show host called Barry Champlain, is a mixture of how RTÉ’s Joe Duffy sees himself – a man of the people, and how comedian David McSavage sees him – a self-anointed demi god who gets his professional jollies from the misery of others. His late night call-in show, Nightline, is a base trough, where all sort of prejudices and peculiarities gather and dampen the airwaves through talk that is inane, inarticulate but also inexplicably compelling.
Bogosian’ play wonders why people call such shows, what their choice to express themselves this way tells us about them and about society, and, most importantly, it is an exploration of how social debate is made: grinding the meat of an issue into the thinnest of arguments, seasoned with incendiary remarks and dispensed with before the listener can ascertain its true merit. In a world where trolling of social media is on the rise and media controversialists poison debates by flying to outlandish extremes, Talk Radio is as pertinent now as it was almost thirty years ago.
Originally publishedi in the Irish Theatre Magazine