national Arts Festival Banner

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Paul Slabolepszy’s new play For Your Ears Only, directed by Ralph Lawson, was presented by SAfm in association with the National Arts Festival on the main programme.

Listening to comments from audience members afterwards, I got the feeling that many had gone expecting something completely different. The remark “But it’s not a play” was heard more than once. Well, it is actually a play within a play with a sub-plot.

The structure itself is a play, dealing with an irascible radio producer (Michael Richard), the cast of his popular serial (Louise Saint-Claire, Esmeralda Bihl and Ralph Lawson), the writer (Samson Khumalo), a new actor (Sibusiso Radebe) and a crusty maintenance man (Paul Slab himself).

Then there’s the play – or rather the drama series – they’re trying to record although the cast keep getting side-tracked in reminiscences, arguments or explaining the studio equipment to Sibusiso and only really get to grips with it towards the end … and then “play-acting”, as it were, from two characters whose relationship is not what it innocently seems.

To me, the production was a brilliant master-class on radio theatre. In amongst the amusing repartee and hilarious gags - and Michael Richard has some exit lines to die for – are reminders of the power of this extraordinary medium. With the threat of more power cuts to come from Eskom, remember that you don’t need electricity for a battery-charged radio – so get tuned back into the theatre of the mind, where the hero or heroine looks exactly as you want them to and the décor, surroundings and locations are as vivid as your imagination! Viva radio theatre, viva! – Caroline Smart