Daphne Oram’s Wonderful World of Sound
May 9th -13th
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
On entering the auditorium the audience find a stage tableau of four men frozen in the act of reading about, listening to or adjusting radio equipment. Their brilliantined hair, white shirts and braces (reminiscent of a Vettriano painting) place the inaction back in the mid 20th century. A throbbing bass note from the huge sound desk at the back of the stage contrasts with the terribly, terribly plumy voice of the play’s eponymous narrator portrayed by Isobel McArthur (joint author with Paul Brotherston). She informs us that humans are imperfect, incapable of making precisely the same sounds again and again, unlike a Radiophonic Workshop.
What follows is the story of Daphne Oram’s fascination with sound reproduction, from a girl scribbling diagrams and doctoring radios to a woman pioneering audio effects for the BBC. A true visionary, she faces opposition or at best indifference from Aunty BBC and its committee culture. Eventually the redoubtable Miss Oram prevails via the Drama Department. (Those of a certain age will enjoy the references to PC 49 and the struggle to get a noise for danger that wasn’t a cymbal clash!)
There is much to admire here from the live sound score provided by Anneke Kampman to the ensemble cast of Robin Hellier, David James Kirkwood, Dylan Read and Matthew Seagar who skilfully vary roles, accents and genders; their slow-motion scene changes are a balletic delight. An excellent production that educates, informs and entertains.
Reviewer : David G Moffat