Pixel Tracker

Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 9:41 am | Partly Cloudy 56º

 
 
 
 

Review: Speaking of Stories Steps Out of the Routine with ‘Gumshoe Drama’

Production provides an entertaining 'backstage view' of radio plays from the 1940s

Radio dramas of the 1940s were a mainstay of American entertainment. Populated with hard-boiled detectives and dames in distress, they featured sound effects produced with a variety of contraptions and were sponsored by companies whose advertisements for their toothpaste, floor polish or hair cream peppered the proceedings.

Speaking of Stories, the high-quality series of performances featuring short stories read by actors, has departed from its usual format by replicating radio drama with its Gumshoe Drama shows Nov. 4-5 at Center Stage Theater and directed by Maggie Mixsell.

Here, the audience enjoys a “backstage view” as the four actors, in the roles of 1940s radio performers, enter the studio, taking off their coats and chatting about what they had for lunch. Once they step up to the microphones, however, they are all business.

Another advantage to the added visual dimension is getting to see the sound effects being created. In an episode of Richard Diamond, Private Detective, the multitalented Irwin Appel opens and closes a miniature door, walks a pair of shoes across the table, and pounds a pillow with a golf club to mimic the sounds of a fistfight while also voicing the Announcer and several characters.

Appel really shines as Sam Spade in The Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail Caper. His dry delivery of the clever lines is spot-on, and his rich, deep voice has just the right hint of gravel to it.

Michael Morgan takes the lead as Richard Diamond in The Nathan Beeker Case. His voice is velvety and extremely versatile, with dialects and characters seeming to flow effortlessly. A smooth talker, he ends the episode crooning a love song to his girl as she bandages his wounds.

Emily Jewell plays all the female parts, from secretaries to femme fatales, with buoyant energy and charm. Aside from being a gifted and experienced actor, she has admirable comic timing and great range.

In “Red Wind,” an episode of The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, Jewell plays the mysterious Lola, to David Brainard’s Philip, with surprising depth and heart.

This is the most affecting of the trio of radio plays, adapted from a Raymond Chandler short story about a violent Los Angeles night filled with Santa Ana winds. Brainard, who played supporting parts in the other pieces, was a fine leading man here. Marlow is low-key, smart and streetwise, but not without compassion, and Brainard brought out these facets of the character masterfully.

Old-style advertising spots for various products appeared throughout, lending an air of authenticity to the experience, though they did tend to go on a little long.

Speaking of Stories has taken a surprising new turn here, which leads us to another mystery: What will it do next? Stay tuned to find out.

— Justine Sutton of Santa Barbara is a freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.