REVIEW - Magic: A Fantastic Comedy
Pentaquark Productions brought us "Magic: A Fantastic Comedy" as a zoom based radio play accompanied by images that helped set the scene for those not used to the audio only format.
This radio play felt timeless and wouldn't be out of place being pulled from the BBC Radio 4 archives. Running at 50 minutes, this production is one I hope anyone wanting some mystery mixed into their comedy takes full advantage of.
The sound design was minimal but effective. Much like the best radio plays it helped tell the story and give context to what was being said while not being too distracting from the piece as a whole. The mixing between the different voices and effects was done well with even distance being sold through volume. Having to record the show remotely did lead to some noticeable differences in microphone quality between cast members, but it was dealt with well in the mix. The more I got invested in the story the less I noticed it.
Visually you wouldn't normally expect much from a radio play and I am used to sitting back and imagining the scene myself. However for many the antiquated radio play format doesn't cut it. By adding visuals it gave those listeners a visual anchor for the scene they were listening to. It also allowed for clear scene transitions and made effective use of both colour and movement to sell the magic of the show.
The cast each had unique voices meaning that I could easily follow what each character was saying which is so often a struggle for this format. This great casting extended to the vocal performances which were engaging and expressive. The accents embraced the caricatures they embodied, adding to the comedy and giving the actors a chance to lean into the exaggeration.
The marketing for this show had amazingly distinctive graphics that I'm sure drew people in and created a recognisable theme around all posts. Sadly the amount of marketing was minimal and I would have love to have read more or seen more about the show or the process; giving a chance for the recognisability of the graphics to create a continued engagement. With this adaptation of a less well known show the Cherwell article that provided more context helped significantly to set the scene of the show when I was deciding whether or not to buy a ticket.
Overall this show was a shining example of student radio plays and an impressive accomplishment for both cast and crew. This amazing edit, put together by the director John Howes, filled with mystery and laughs was an hour thoroughly enjoyed.
Written by - H. Dovell