I first met Craig Stephens and Jake Oldershaw when I was working on the Stan’s Cafe show Simple Maths in 1997. Craig had been with the company for a while and it was Jake’s first show with them. They are both brilliant to work with, both scarily talented and I’ve been working with them again for the last two weeks on another Stan’s show – Of All The People In All The World at MASS MoCA in the US.
But I digress. The point is that I came home a bit earlier than they did which meant that I could listen to their new radio play on Radio 4 FM last night while they had to be content with a digital version on the www.
Each episode of Dr Pfeffer’s Lonely Hearts Club is just under fifteen minutes long and I was a bit worried to begin with as it seemed to be taking a while to get going and the clock was ticking. I couldn’t help thinking that the text would have sounded better in the hands, I mean the mouths, of the careful Stan’s performers, but then everything fell into place with some beautifully layered sound and dialogue and it all made sense. Wine tasting – I was getting a whiff of Jam with some classic underlying Stan in the “Good and True” mode but with a hint of Derek and Clive and a strong prog. rock flavour which led me to thinking about Godley and Creme’s sadly neglected, under-rated and generally ignored 1977 triple album Consequences. In other words, you can’t really describe it, you might as well just give it a listen. Poor old Radio 4 had to classify this as “Music/comedy” but it is, of course, much, much more than that. You can listen again to the first episode on the BBC site but then you’ll have to wait patiently for the next episode on Wednesday at 23:00. You’ll snuggle down under the duvet with your wireless and emerge 15 minutes later cursing the commissioners for not making every episode a triple album.
On a side note, you can read about several interesting Doctor Pfeffers if you have a quick search on the web. The most famous seems to be Dr Jeffrey Pfeffer, who is well known in the world of organisational theory. My favourite, though, is Fritz Pfeffer. He was a German dentist who had to hide from the Nazis because he was Jewish. He was eventually captured and sent off to a succession of concentration camps, eventually dying in Neuengamme in 1944. He is more famous than most of the people killed by the Nazis because he shared his hiding place in Amsterdam with a young girl called Anne Frank who didn’t much like him and was pretty uncomplimentary about him in her diary.