by Adele Park
performed by Adele Park, Susan Paige Lane, Paige Allred, Kristen Henley, Desiree Whitehead, Garry Morris, John Gibson, Steve Coppola, Chrystine Hyatt, Dave Cochran, Chase Nichter, Tim Porter, Doug Caputo, Rick Pickett and, Guy Smith
Straight to Audio Productions
“When Radio and polygamy collide…”
I will be the first to admit openly that, as I was live-tweeting the results of the Audies, I was extremely bemused when Jitters was announced as the winner in the Multi-Voiced Performance category. I had no dog in this fight and I had only listened to one title in this category (The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde; performed by a full cast from L.A. Theater Works, starring James Marsters;) but Jitters was up against not only “Ernest;” but the high profile title, Room (by Emma Donoghue; narrated by Michal Friedman, Ellen Archer, Robert Petkoff and, Suzanne Toren,) Great Classics of Science Fiction (by H.G. Wells, Stanley G. Weinbaum, Lester Del Ray, et al; narrated by Simon Vance, Nick Sullivan, Robert Fass, et al) and The Shadow Effect (written and narrated by Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson and, Debbie Ford.) Big titles, well-known authors and veteran narrators were superseded by an unknown quantity. Adele Park reached out to bloggers this summer and I, eager to hear the David that slew its Goliath competition at the Audies, readily accepted a review copy for consideration.
The story itself is funny, clever and full of surprises. Set in the fictional small towns of Navel and Zion Flats, Utah, shock jock Nancy Neptune arrives to shake things up in the small Mormon community. Nancy has been exiled to a remote, risk-adverse radio station to be its program director and, dj the morning drive. (So, right off the first joke is on the listener as this isn’t a radio drama; but a drama about radio!) The story of Nancy Neptune’s impact on the community is told from several characters’ points of view, each of the twenty-two chapters dedicated to a voice to advance the story. The format is such that each testimony is preceded by a radio news spot which also provides a tell as to the action off-camera. Nancy’s presence is a lightning rod for events that have unanticipated results and, for a slew of eccentric characters including (but not limited to): an obese, divorced woman, a drag queen, a one-armed argro reporter/erstwhile detective and, a mentally challenged, inbred Yeti-like man who likes to sing along to Cheap Trick songs… While the easy laughs lie in the obvious idiosyncrasies of the characters, in the physical humor of their mere existence, the surprises come as the complexity of their characters is revealed.
There are eight key characters and, a number of smaller roles and bits, all performed by the voice-over talent that Adele Park has assembled. Exaggerated accents/mannerisms provide each character with a distinctive and appropriate voice. Because the setting and premise of Jitters is predicated on the radio theme, the production quality also adheres to the same clear, perhaps over-articulated, sound. [If I quibble here, it’s only because there are reasons I don’t listen to radio anymore and, one of them is that I find radio very harsh on the ears.]
There is absolutely no subtlety here. The precociousness of the writing and of the performances can wear a bit thin; but it is certainly original in all regards.