Making its debut performance, Talkback is a pulp delight, ideal for a spooky summer night.
You follow washed-up TV medium, Margie Hillspeck, and her ratings-obsessed producer, Russel, as they slog through a night of prank calls, creepy fan letters and studio-mandated ad breaks during the graveyard shift on 84.9 FM.
The show? Second Chance Farewells – a show which offers listeners a chance to ‘contact’ their loved ones from beyond the grave. Lies are a given in this line of work, however, they end up getting more than they bargained for as a persistent caller forces Margie to face her grief and her guilt over power plays past.
Many of us have stumbled across a bizarre late-night radio show, making this the perfect setting for a horror story.
In particular, Talkback makes clever use of sound and lighting to create the illusion that the audience is in the studio with its characters, featuring everything from sudden bouts of static to unexplained power outages, to disturbing phone calls which are staples of the genre.
However, the amusing local references and meta-comedy adds to the homegrown charm and stops the show from becoming too serious or scary.
The small cast kept the show feeling intimate and allowed the performers to breathe life into their characters, showcasing a range of intense emotions and believably witty dialogue.
As we learn the truth of Margie’s trauma, we are also given an engaging character study which attempts to explore the complicated and sometimes toxic relationships we have with the living, the dead, and even with ourselves.
While not all elements of the story gelled together, the balance of familiar horror elements and tongue-in-cheek humour makes the overall experience spine-chillingly fun.
If you’re a fan of pulp horror and supernatural comedy, then tune in to Talkback!