Mystery in the Air started a little like this ...
by Michael Veitch
“What about one of those old radio plays?” It’s amazing what a casual remark can sometimes lead to. But that’s what Simon Oats said to me as we were enjoying a couple of quiet ones at our local here in the Yarra Valley. Fast forward two years, and we’re on the verge of presenting our all-original, home-grown retro baby, ‘Mystery in the Air’ to audiences right across Victoria and beyond.
I’d seen Simon on stage and liked his work, and we’d long been trying to find an excuse to work together. Little did I know till that moment that both of us shared a love of those all-but-vanished days when radio drama was king, and all the sets and scenery were all supplied by nothing but the power of the listener’s imagination.
The idea began pretty simply enough, just performing a couple of old radio scripts from the 1940s, and doing all the voices and sound effects in front of a live audience – just like in the old days. Then we added the dimension of our respective characters, and we soon found we had a complete play on our hands, and one we think is pretty jolly good, too!
It’s 1947 in the studio of radio station 3UK where every week, their top-rating show Mystery in the Air is lapped up by legions of adoring listeners, presented by that dynamic duo or radio, Tony, ‘The Ace’ Hamilton, and Clifton Ploughman. The show rates its pant off, but our two presenters are chalk and cheese and all is not well behind the scenes. I play Clifton, the older professional stalwart who each week writes and prepares a whole new show, while Tony is the younger, brasher, ex-fighter pilot ladies man who has no doubts whatever about either his prodigious talent or his appeal to the ladies (sometimes I think Simon’s playing Tony Hamilton a little too well!).
As the show begins, the two heroes are getting ready to serve up this week’s show - a terrific schlock horror waxworks story that Clifton has meticulously prepared. Tony is late – again- and quite the worse the wear from the party the night before. It’s not a good start and as the show goes out live to air, it’s all downhill from there. Then, during the ad and music breaks, Tony reveals some very startling news, and by the end of the first act, it’s disintegrated into one of the worst days of poor old Clifton’s life. There is always however, next week’s show, and with Flash Gordon as his ally, Clifton has seven days to plan his revenge!
Mystery In the Air is fun and fast-paced, with Simon and I truly having a ball emulating the talents of those old radio stars to each become a ‘man of a thousand voices!’
So hope you can come and see Mystery in the Air, Simon and I would love to meet you!