March 22nd, 2012

This IS me (by schwitters)Default

Births, Deaths and Marriages

Last night I went to a BBC recording of a new Radio 4 comedy, Births, Deaths and Marriages, written by and starring David Schneider (known to me as the cute one out of The Saturday Night Armistice; also remarkable for his brief, bizarre cameos in 28 Days Later, The Saint and Mission: Impossible). Also in the cast, unannounced, was Russell Tovey, the jug-eared werewolf from Being Human.

The show is a gentle comedy, very British, very BBC, set in a registry office. Schneider plays the rather Gordon Brittas-like chief registrar Malcolm Fox, a decent yet annoying bastion of tradition in a world of change and designated breastfeeding areas. (David Schneider, at the start: "Now, I'm sure you're all familiar with registry offices...anyone been in one lately? To get married? Yes, you? To the person next to you, or someone else? Anyone else got married lately? Anyone been born?...No? Good, good...")

Being part of the studio audience always feels special, like being in on an exclusive joke or party. With radio, it's fun to see how actors' appearances differ from the way their voices later make them sound, and to observe which ones just speak and which ones perform little bits of business at the mike. (It seemed to me yesterday that everyone had bothered to dress appropriately for their character, too, though perhaps David Schneider always wears a tie and a jumper.) It's even fun to sit through the re-takes of lines at the end, though it can be hard to muster a laugh for a joke you've already heard, now appearing out of context. Laughs all round, though, as the cast attempted a tricky bit with several lines of dialogue timed around the National Anthem that got worse with every try.

The first episode goes out on May 25th; listen for my laugh as, on the second take, I actually get the final joke.
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