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Flash Gordon

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Armchair /Shotgun, 19 May 2012
 
Performed live at 61 Local in New York, Flash Gordon was written and performed by a six-strong cast, many of whom are involved in the production of the magazine Armchair/ Shotgun. Zachary White and Dolan Morgan are both writers; Alanna Bailey is a marketing consultant and writer; John M. Cusick is co-founder and managing editor of the Armchair/ Shotgun magazine; Vicki Lane is the magazine's resident publicist, and Laura McMillan is managing editor. 
 
The drama itself was reminiscent of other examples of pastiche old-time radio and film productions, such as those performed on audio and on stage by the Fitzrovia Radio Hour (why have they stopped releasing their podcasts, incidentally). The story, in which our eponymous hero saves the world, vanquishes enemies and manages to avoid getting married, is much as one might expect: all the action is performed in capital letters, with the cast's voices climbing to crescendos of excitement. However Flash Gordon distinguishes itself by the fact that all the sound-effects are provided by the cast themselves; this is very much a do-it-yourself performance that obviously delighted the live audience.
 
On occasions I felt that it might have been better to see the performance rather than just listen to the recording; if we had watched the actors, as well as listened to them, we might have better appreciated their comic energy. Nonetheless the recording is well worth listening to; while the production obviously makes fun of the old serials in which Flash Gordon appeared (generally played by Buster Crabbe), it also reveals a genuine affection for them. They are part of American popular culture, and should be recognized as such.