The short play “Talk Radio” by Eric Bogosian is about a controversial and high energy radio talk show called “Night Talk with Barry Champlain”. The whole play is about one nights show, right after Barry, the plays main character finds out that his show is going to go from a local broadcast in Cleveland to a nationally syndicated talk show aired around the nation. But the sponsors are listening so in order for the deal to go through, Barry must make it one hell of a show.
Throughout the broadcast, Stu Barry’s operator who screens the calls and decides which ones will be connected through throws Barry some curveballs. These crazy calls include a transvestite, a pregnant 16-year-old girl looking for advice on how to tell her parents, an 18-year-old boy who fakes his girlfriends OD in order to make an impression on Barry so that he can meet him, and lots and lots of people who call to tell Barry how much they love or hate his show.
Woven throughout the story are the stories of the other characters of the play and how they came to be a part of Barry Champlain’s life and show. Stu worked with Barry on his former radio job before he landed this one in Detroit, when Barry moved, Stu went with him. Linda is Barry’s assistant producer for Night Talk, but also has had romantic relations with Barry for the past years and likes him even though she knows he is a lost cause. Dan is the executive producer of the radio station. He tells of how he found Barry at another radio station and convinced him to move to have his own show on a radio station that only plays talk shows. They transformed his past to include being a vietnam war veteran and a former hippy.
Overall, I thought this was a pretty good play. Granted I’m not a very big fan of reading plays and would much rather see them live, but this one wasn’t half bad to read. The story line was interesting and was a pretty good dipiction of all the talk radio shows like this that I have listened to in the past. (Not that I listen to very many, I absolutely HATE talk radio… Radio is for music, if I wanted to hear stupid people bash on each other and talk about absurd things, I could just go listen to a strangers conversation at Wal-Mart or McDonald’s.) I can understand the mentality behind having this as one of the two assigned readings for the course because it shows a way of the public giving feedback to a radio show, and does so in an interesting and entertaining way (unlike our last required reading). I think I would be fairly interested in seeing this play live… well only if it were free to go to, there are definitely other plays I’d want to watch first and would actually be willing to pay money to see.