The film noir tribute "Radio Star" opens at The Red House

Review: The one-woman murder mystery is filled with surprises

“Radio Star,” a one-woman play by Tanya O'Debra, features a large cast. Let me say that again. This one-woman play features a large cast. And every character is played by the wildly talented O'Debra. Within the small theater space at the Red House Arts Center O'Debra stages a full 1940s-style radio production, complete with sound effects. She manipulates her voice to become a wise-ass detective, a weepy widow, a monstrous man servant and an air-headed secretary.

The story's narrator is the deplorably loveable Nick McKittrick, aka Private Dick. Fanny LaRue calls upon McKittrick's services after her husband has been strangled to death with a telephone cord. After a few attempts to get LaRue into bed, McKittric takes on “The Case of the Long-Distance Lover”. He meets many characters along the way; all with very unique voices, all played by O'Debra. In the end, as with all murder mysteries, the culprit is he whom you least expect.Tanya O'Debra in one of her many roles

O'Debra is impressive in each of her eight roles. As McKittrick, she employs a pitch-perfect male voice and hands out puns like cigarettes. The detective delivers lines like: “That's about as useful as a fishnet condom.” A gem to be sure.

Other characters in O'Debra's repertoire include a secretary who sounds remarkably like Audrey from the film “Little Shop of Horrors”, an Irish policeman, an Igor-like servant and a doofus of a coworker. All are equally hilarious and all are equally annoyed by McKittrick.

Besides O'Debra, the only other person onstage is J. Lincoln Hallowell, who provides sound effects. Hallowell turns tap shoes into approaching foot steps and McKittrick's frantic running. Ripping velcro becomes a striking match. Socks with weights in them when dropped on a drum become bodies dropping to the ground.

The set is simple, exactly what one would expect from a primarily auditory play. A vintage microphone and a table of props are the only stage accoutrements. However, O'Debra and Hallowell both dress the part; her hair slicked back and lips rouged, he in a suit. Their outfits combined with the WWII era music puts the audience in a 1940s frame of mind.

Directed by Peter Cook and written by O'Debra, “Radio Star” deserves a large audience, something it didn't receive on Oct. 6. While only 50 minutes long, the show packs a punch, delivering a laugh a minute. Anyone looking for a night full of sexual innuendos, advertisements for industrial strength douches and a murder or two should put “Radio Star” on their "to do" list.

“Radio Star” is playing at the Red House Arts Center on October 7 and 8 Tickets are $20. Showtime is 8 pm. For more information visit and

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