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John Peel's Shed, Perth Theatre

I was much tickled to be told that John Osborne played his Fringe hit show to its largest audience ever in Perth on Wednesday evening.

That audience numbered close to 400 souls and they had chosen the performance from the brochure of the Perth Festival of the Arts. It speaks volumes for both the enquiring nature of the festival's audience and the continued potency of John Peel's name that the organisers of the event so exceeded their box office target.

In its fringe theatre way, Osborne's memoir monologue is not quite what it says on the tin. It is much more about Osborne than Peel, although the influential DJ is the catalyst at key points in the narrative. The box of discs Osborne won in an ad hoc competition on Peel's radio show provides a very vague framework for the piece, but those who expected some original insight into the sonic obscurities of rock and pop that both Peel and Osborne champion will have gone home disappointed.

Osborne's purpose is to show the difference that tuning into Peel, and an obsession with radio in general, made to his development as a human being, and to share what he has learned about the effect of radio-listening on others.

His performance, while confident enough, comes with the self-consciously hand-knitted props of inexpertly cued vinyl platters and an overhead projector. It is quite charming in its own way, but some distance, I expect, from An Audience with Tim Brooke-Taylor, which will be playing the same space tomorrow evening as part of the festival.

Osborne's most important achievement this week was to take his (largish) audience in an unfamiliar direction. How very Peel that is.

HHH

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