Inaugurating a new week Weekend Feature for Newstalgia - Newstalgia Weekend Thespian. A weekly series of plays run complete and from all over. Our first play is Kafka The Musical by Murray Gold, starring David Tennant in a production done for the BBC this past April.
June 11, 2011

David Tennant - Trading in The Tardis for The Proscenium Arch.

This is the first of what I hope will be new weekly weekend series devoted to plays, contemporary and historic and running the gamut from Great American Plays to Experimental World Stage.

As many of you know, the idea of doing a stage play for radio is something that still happens regularly all over the rest of the world, but not here in the U.S. - not anymore anyway. The idea of doing plays for radio gets lumped into the somewhat quaint stereotype of "Old Time Radio Drama" which this is not and won't be.

The object here is to present plays that are famous in history, revolutionary in their concept and engaging in their execution. I'm busily digitizing a pile of plays going back to the 1950's and plan on doing these once a week, as a respite from the barrage of Weekend Talkshows, Pundits and Spinning heads.

Some of you responded when I asked a few weeks ago about adding plays to the eclectic mix on Weekend Newstalgia. So we're going to give it a shot and see what happens.

For the first one, I thought I would run something that is of recent vintage via the BBC. Kafka The Musical is a new production from playright/composer Murray Gold and it stars David Tennant (last seen as Dr. Who) in the title role.

Here is a rundown and cast list via the BBC site:

Murray Gold's new play starts from the suitably Kafkaesque premise that Franz Kafka finds he has to play himself in a musical about his own life. The play - or is it the musical? - introduces Kafka and the audience to some of the key characters in his life, Milena Jesenska, Dora Diamant and Felice Bauer.

Franz Kafka ..... David Tennant
Father ..... David Fleeshman
Mother ..... Joanna Monro
Milena ..... Naomi Frederick
Felice ..... Jessica Raine
Dora ..... Emerald O'Hanrahan
Barman / Singer / Doctor ..... Trevor Allan Davies
Newspaper Seller / Man ..... Brian Bowles
Music by Murray Gold
Directed by Jeremy Mortimer

Murray Gold's first radio play Electricity won the Richard Imison award for best new play after its broadcast on Radio 3 in 2001. It subsequently transferred to the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2004 and was performed with Christopher Eccleston in the lead role. Other plays include 50 Revolutions performed by the Oxford Stage Company at the Whitehall Theatre, London in 2000 and Resolution at Battersea Arts Centre in 1994, and Little Joe and His Struggle Against the World (Radio 3 2005). Murray Gold has been nominated for a BAFTA four times in the category Best Original Television Music, for Vanity Fair (1999), Queer as Folk (2000), Casanova (2006) and Doctor Who (2008). He wrote the theme tune for the Channel 4 series Shameless and scored the period drama The Devil's Whore. More recently Murray Gold scored another David Tennant series, BBC1's Single Father.

It won't be for all tastes, and this production got some pretty mixed reviews a few weeks ago. But if you've never heard something like this before, here's a great excuse to check it out. It's a little under 90 minutes so it's all on one player.

Come back here for our next installment next week. But in the meantime, I would urge you to check out the treasure-trove of amazing material via the BBC Site. It's a good place to start, especially if you've overdosed on ersatz TV this week.


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