As the world turns back the clock to resemble the plague-ridden Dark Ages, so too are its inhabitants turning back to an old form of entertainment: listening to the radio. The Oxford University Light Entertainment Society are therefore right on the money in choosing their subject and medium with their latest production, The Radio Show at the End of the World.
One might be anxious that tuning in might only add to our already-crippling load of anxieties. However, I am happy to report that the team responsible are far too ridiculous in their sense of humour to exacerbate any worries we might have about our collective, imminent doom. On the contrary, I found that all concerns fizzled away as my ears were treated to a sonic banquet of scrumptious silliness, juicy in their jokes and delicious in their delivery. Never before has entertainment à la radio been so soufflé-light.
The premise is that humans face not one but several civilisation-ending catastrophes all at once. This includes, but is not limited to, a zombie apocalypse, an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, and an alien invasion led by an insecure overlord, Dvorshak played by Tom Vallely. There is much to be delighted by here, and highlights include an alarmingly nonchalant government spokesperson voiced by Will Ainsworth who periodically spouts random clichéd phrases (“hardworking families”), as well as a Love Shack-inspired ditty about Dvorshak’s hivemind, written by Maya Walker and Vallely. Musical numbers pop up throughout, and credit must go to all the songwriters and those who mixed the recordings, too many to name here. There is also a dizzying array of hilarious cameo figures who materialise before being replaced by another equally ridiculous character with breathless speed. The appearance of Brian Cox (Maddie Hall) and his brother, Ted (Branoc Richards), for instance, is highly amusing. We discover that Ted, although the more maligned sibling (his name is short for “unwanted”) is actually the one with the brains. Brian is more of a supernatural emanation who speaks in a perpetual monologue than a high-profile scientist. He is a mystery of the universe; as inexplicable as my extended culinary metaphor in the first half of this review. Long may Dvorshak, err, I mean OULES, reign!
The Radio Show at the End of the World can be listened to on The Oxford University Light Entertainment Society’s YouTube Channel.