Writer/performer John Osborne’s Fringe debut will speak to some folks more than others – specifically those with an anoraky love for the independent end of rock and pop music. But even if you think Belle and Sebastian is the name of a fancy delicatessen, there’s a loveable honesty to John Peel’s Shed—as uncontrived and gently heart-warming an hour as you’ll spend on the Fringe—that anyone can connect with.
As a student in 2002, Osborne entered and won a competition on the late John Peel’s Radio 1 show which earned him a box full of obscure vinyl records from the legendary disc jockey’s shed. From the comfort of a living room-style stage set, the shaggy-haired 20-something recounts how it led him on a journey – from presenting his own show on Norwich community station Future Radio to penning a book about the simple pleasure of listening to the wireless.
Selections from Peel’s shed are given a spin, among them Oizone (an oi punk Boyzone covers crew) and Atom and His Package, a DIY synthpunk project by a “nice man who had to retire because he had asthma.” But the play’s not about music per se: rather how a great DJ can foster a special bond with his listeners capable of fulfilling all kinds of needs, be it a laugh, a cry, a rant, mindless distraction or simple company.
Osborne’s no natural performer—he reads some of his lines as if from the floor—but it barely matters. Don’t expect fireworks, just a fuzzy, contented glow in your stomach – as perfect an outcome as any show inspired by John Peel could hope for.