Talk Radio– A Play by Eric Bogosian

Review by Emily Feder, Arts Producer: The Mike Feder Show

People who like Liev Schreiber argue that his intense
facial expressions display a profound understanding of
the dark, complex elements of human existence. I
agree that Schreiber has a rigorous and dramatic
intensity to him, but I have always thought his look
was pretty much exactly the same, no matter what role
he was playing: it seems more attributable to a desire
to feel something, rather than the phenomenon of
inhabiting a distinct, genuine role. I only began to
have more respect for Schreiber as an artist after I
saw him star in “Talk Radio” last weekend.

“Talk Radio” is a revival of a play Eric Bogosian
wrote twenty years ago about a radio personality named
Barry Champlain, who is profound, defiantly charming,
nasty, and unsympathetic all at once. Champlain is on
the brink of mainstream success when the play begins
and, over the course of two hours, we watch him host
one of the most important radio shows of his life. He
whispers and bellows out of his dark room to the
lonely mass who calls into his show for most of the
play. For some, this play might seem dated: one more
attractive, indiscriminately defiant Jewish man
grapples with his skill for exerting intellectual
power, while he is haunted by an awareness that he is
a lost soul. The saving grace of this play is that no
one pretends it isn’t taking place in the 80s, so it’s
possible to enjoy its main character-and his cultural
and emotional relevance-without the contempt
familiarity can bring.

Liev Schreiber is no doubt the star of the show, and
some of the other actors pale in comparison to his
performance, but that isn’t a problem since they only
appear peripherally. I still think that, with all
Schreiber’s intensity, he lacks a certain charisma
that Barry Champlain would no doubt have had, but I
have a new-found respect for Schreiber, and his
ability to embody a role. I really believed he was
Barry Champlain for most of the play and I had a great
time watching him perform.

“Talk Radio”
– Written by Eric Bogosian
– Directed by Robert Falls (“Death of a Salesman”
(Tony Award), “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” and
“Shining City”)
– Staring Liev Schreiber and featuring Stephanie
March, Peter Hermann, Michael Lawrence, and Sebastian

Opening Date: March 11th, 2007

Longacre Theatre
220 W. 48th St.
New York, NY 10036

Ticket Price: $36-$96

– Mike Feder (New York City – March 11, 2007)

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