Jun 07

“★★★★” Review of Mystery Radio Theatre Series 2


The Butterfly Club is one of Melbourne’s leading, full – time performance spaces. For almost twenty – five years to date, the city – based institution has promoted more than one thousand new and exciting shows. Located in Carson Place, the club covers a vast array of entertainment options including stand – up comedy, games, karaoke, song cycles, improvisation, cabaret, musicals and plays.


Its proprietors also helped to kick – start the careers of Tim Minchin and Eddie Perfect, and more recently, featured established stars like Amanda Harrison, Jemma Rix and Kurt Phelan.


Now playing for a strictly – limited season, Mystery Radio Theatre presents a quirky set of gripping and exciting thriller – comedies. From the minds of ‘Man Bites God’ and the ‘Theatre Of The World’ podcast, this team’s adventuresome offerings are equal parts, tongue – in – cheek parodies, and nostalgic tributes to a bygone era.


Decades before the internet or indeed, free – to – air television in general, commercial radio was the leading source of instant mass communication. Wide – reaching service ranged from news, sport, music, current affairs, and especially serials. Indeed, a fair few of these episodic dramas were staged before a live studio audience.


Last year, Mystery Radio Theatre was one of the stand – out acts from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Reimagining this old – time throwback for the twenty – first century, in 2016 the group produced three vastly different stories.


They were:

  • ‘The Adventure of Smuggler’s Cove’ (a parody of Enid Blyton’s adventures for children).
  • ‘Murder Me Again, My Darling’ (a spoof in the style of Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane).
  • ‘Whodiddendunnit’ (lampooning Agatha Christie’s crime mysteries).


Back with a vengeance, this season the company is featuring ‘Maxie Diablo & The Funky Funky Sex Murders’, ‘Under The Blood Moon’, and ‘The Killer Wore Death’.


The opening night’s presentation was ‘Maxie Diablo & The Funky Funky Sex Murders’. (It should be noted that each story will have one repeat performance over the six evening run).


Written by James Hazelden & Nicholas Rasche, with sharp direction by Hazelden, it was clear from the outset that the pair put a great deal of time and research into development. For example, small touches like an ‘On The Air’ sign suspended from the lighting grid, dressing the cast in matching Pulp Fiction inspired attire, some witty pop culture side references, and clever sound effects operated by on – stage props and lap top, helped to enhance the overall viewing experience.


Reading from folders in hand, the six – member team included doe – eyed, Fleur Murphy (as Investigator, Maxie), Vaughn Rae (as her intense, but devoted boyfriend, Walter), Mark Woodward (as smooth – talking club owner, Sexy Pete), Emily Carr (as the mysterious Madame Lash, and Bambi the Stripper), and Chris Tomkins (as bumbling Reverend Jehoshaphat).


Standout moments included a hot tub liaison, the recurring use of a bull whip, as well as some quick – talking banter between Maxie and her hard – as – nails boss (also played by Woodward).


The actors’ fast – paced, yet relaxed camaraderie together, reminded this reviewer of local and international comedy ensembles from classic television and radio sketch shows such as ‘Australia, You’re Standing In It’, ‘The Carol Burnett Show’, ‘The Comic Strip Presents’, ‘The Late Show, ‘Mad TV’, ‘The Naked Vicar Show’, ‘SNL, and ‘The Tracy Ullman Show’.


With a compact sixty – minute running time, the entertainment was neatly sliced in two by a brief interval. This short break showcased a guest artist on stage, followed by a fun mock commercial.


Special mention must be made to Tuesday’s performer, Floyd Thursby, for his playful rendition of ‘A Bag Of Knives’, which was an ideal, mood – enhancing choice for the occasion.


Capturing the cheesy essence of seventies’ sexploitation flicks mixed with odd – couple cop movies, the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Mike Myers and David O. Russell would be pretty chuffed. It was a joy to be in on the joke.


Nick Pilgrim – theatrepeople.com.au


Original review HERE


Jun 07

A Mention of Mystery Radio Theatre

I nice mention of the second series of Mystery Radio Theatre in Melbourne’s M Magazine (The Age)




As part of the promotion of the shows, I also appeared on 3RRR and JoyFM.

Apr 24

Another Nice Review of Mystery Radio Theatre


Peter Green, from 3MBS, was kind enough to provide me with his personal notes on our show so we could pull these quotes:


“All the stock Blyton characters were there; jovial local Bobby with awful Irish accent; Captain somebody or other with a worse Cornish ones; “jolly hockey-sticks girl detective” on holiday with gaga Aunt – Anna Renzenbrink had the character down to a tee; complete with Roedean or Cheltenham College accent consistent for the duration.

The 50 minutes of simulated radio play was fun and the pastiche of a typical Blighton story was well done.

I so enjoyed Mystery Radio Theatre’s The Adventure of Smuggler’s Cove last Saturday that I returned to La Mama last night for the 2nd of their 3 radio plays in the flesh; a noir production entitled “Murder Me Again, My Darling”. Last week it was a very funny pastiche of those Enid Blighton girl detective on holiday solves the local mystery of the ghostly lights in Smugglers Cove etc etc.

Last night it was an homage to to those black and white noir movies about the hard-boiled cynical private detective and the femme fatale – usually blonde and always the suspect in scandalous murder of an A List playboy or public figure.

In Fleur Murphy we had our femme fatale in double; since she managed the role of Veronica – the nightclub chanteuse and evil twin (or is she?) and Verity the angelic (or is she?)

They announced last night that Saturday and Sunday were booked out, but it would be worth trying to get on a waiting list.”


Peter Green – 3MBS

These are excerpts from Peter’s complete notes.

Apr 23

A Review of Mystery Radio Theatre


Here are some excerpts from another review of Mystery Radio Theatre:


“Mystery Radio Theatre is comedy at its most traditional, old fashioned and in some ways this is truly alternative comedy at the festival and it’s a refreshing palate cleanser.

The Cast of Mystery Radio Theatre are ambitiously staging three different radio plays during the MICF. All of them involving murder but sending up different genres. This one Whodiddendunnit is a send up of an Agatha Christie style murder mystery in a big old mansion with a butler, an inheritance, every one having a motive and a re-appearance of a long lost son.

The best thing about Mystery Radio Theatre was the performances of the actors dressed in formal black with the chaps in bow ties.  The highlight being Anna Renzenbrink in two roles, both as dotty Aunt Agatha and keen scullery boy cum detective side kick Tommy.

I also particularly enjoyed the narrator and host who sounded like Bela Lugosi, the characters of Hodges the butler cum detective and dippy son Teddy though everyone else was lots of fun too. The author/director James Hazelden (of musical comedy trio Man Bites God) managed to brilliantly play nasty Pater Gerald and do some of the music background effects as well. A lovely touch, was the musical interlude and advert at half time just like a real radio play. Both were excellent.

This was a very slick production, well written and acted with plenty of laughs. If you are also a fan of 40s film noir or Enid Blyton you might with to check out the other Radio Mystery Plays Murder Me Again, My Darling and The Adventure of Smuggler’s Cove”


Lisa Clark –  Squirrel Comedy


These are excerpts from the review. The complete review is here.

Apr 23

A Review of Mystery Radio Theatre


Ten shows. Three different plays. One sell-out season.

Mystery Radio Theatre was a huge hit with audiences. Even some critics sort-of liked it.

Here are some excerpts from a review:


“The script by James Hazelden and Nicholas Rasche is fun and mysterious, with an obvious predilection for fun, while the mystery itself is cliche and not totally resolved. The charm comes from the comedy: the unexpected one-liners, the 1940s era style paranoia and the fact private eye Jake Steele lives in and operates his business out of his parents’ home.   

The cast are a strong group of actors headed by the host of Mystery Mansion, played wonderfully by Frank Handrum who portrays a strangely comforting creep of a host. One part Vincent Price, one part Betty White. A man that you don’t mind being guided by, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to be left alone with.

Fleur Murphy as the twins (one guilty, one innocent), does a dynamite job switching between the two. Vaughn Rae as Jake Steel, private eye, has a good understanding of the convention of the ditzy detective one that would make Peter Sellars proud. The rest of the cast all perform well in their various roles, voices are all distinct and colourful.

Although this is a review for Murder Me Again My Darling, I am in no doubt of the quality of the other two plays. You’re in good hands with the cast and the comedy is solid.

With a hefty load of laughs along the way you’ll be grinning from ear to ear from start to finish.”


Noah Solman In Review


These are excerpts from the review. The complete review is here.


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