Thursday, January 17, 2013

Best of Audio 2012

Best of Radio/Audio 2012

Quite late, and a bit of a cheat.  Firstly, I have chosen some plays that I only heard first in 2012, knowing they were not produced/broadcast in 2012.  They are in brackets.  Also, I slowed down in my listening to radio/audio in general during the last two months of 2012, and listened to far more audio than radio in the last three.  Nevertheless, I think the plays speak for themselves.  They are more or less in chronological broadcast/listening order rather than any other ranking.  Unfortunately, most of the BBC plays are not universally available, but where links are available, I’ve given them.

The Mumbai Chuzzlewits by Ayesha Menon (BBC/Goldhawk Studios)
Starring Roshan Seth, Karan Pandit, Zafar Karachiwala, Ragit Kapur
Dir. John Dryden

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton/Lin Coghlan (BBC Classic Serial)
Starring Dominic Mafham, Jessica Raine, Laurel Lefkow, Tracy Wiles, Fenella Woolgar

The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper/D J Britton (BBC Classic Serial)
Starring Burn Gorman, Rose Leslie, Alex Waldemann, James Lailey, Francine Chamberlain
Dir. Sasha Yevtushenko

[Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens/Doug Lucy (BBC Classic Serial)
Starring Ian McKellan, Julian Wadham, Margaret Tyzak, John Wood, Jasmine Hyde, Sophie Thompson
Dir. Janet Whittaker]

Turing’s Test by Andy Lord and Phil Collinge (Made in Manchester/Dark Smile Productions
Starring Samuel Barnett and Paul Kendrick

My One and Only by Dawn King (BBC)
Starring Carl Prekopp, Simon Bubb, Katherine Parkinson
Dir. Jessica Dromgoole

Sophia Square (Radio Cardiff/Rhys Phillips
Starring Sule Rimi, Georgina Sammut, Leon Charles, Donna Sibanda, Richard Shannon
Produced by Alison Plant
Slight cheat here as this is a soap serial. 

The Dreamer by Ronald Frame (BBC)
Starring Jane Asher, William Gaminara
Dir. David Ian Neville

[Ben Hur by Lew Wallace/Catherine Cakowska (BBC Classic Serial)
Starring Jamie Glover, Samuel West, Michael Horton, Bernard Hepton]

The Strange Case of Spring-Heel’d Jack by Gareth Parker and Robert Valentine (The Wireless Theatre Company
Starring Christopher Finney, Charlie Adams, Lizzie Goodall, Ben Whitehead, Julian Glover
Dir. Andrew Swann

Turbo Tina ep. 3 by Tim Gambrell 
Starring Betsy Pennington, Philip Elvey, Jenny Limb, Tom Renney, Tim Gambrell, Marsha Rhodes
Dir. Andrew Hyde and Tim Gambrell

Tape Delay by Jonathan Mitchell (The Truth
Starring Ed Herbstman and Tami Sagher
Dir. Jonathan Mitchell

Echo Point by Louis Noura (BBC)
Starring Brandon Burke, Lucy Bell, John Gaden, Russell Kiefel, Stewart D’Amietta, Asher DeGrey
Dir. Judith Kampfer

Top Kill by Mike Walker (BBC)
Starring Colin Stinton, Lorelei King, Nathan Osgood, Laurel Lefkow
Dir. Eoin O’Callaghan

[The Woods by (Icebox Radio Theater
Starring Karen Shickell and Jeffrey Adams]

[Snape’s Diaries by Artemis Riddle (Misfits Audio
Starring Alex Gilmour, Sophie L., Andrew Edwards, Steven Jay Cohen, Dedrick Woodard-Jensen
Dir.April Sadowski]

[All the Blood in My Veins by Katie Hims (BBC)
Starring Elaine Lordan, Shannon Tarbet, Tyger Drew Honey, Katie Angelou, Jude Akuwudike
Dir. Jessica Dromgoole]

[A Frozen Stream Called Wounded Knee by John Pilkington (BBC)
Starring Kerry Shayle, William Hope, Lee Moore
Dir. Andy Jordan]

One by One by Jack J. Ward (Darker Musings Anthology/Electric Vicuña
Starring John Bell, Christine Daniels, Tanja Milojevic, Kiera Lunn, Dylan Warren, Daniel Schreiber, M. Siero Garcia
Dir. John Bell

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Lone Ranger

I also heard several episodes of varying lengths from different periods in The Lone Ranger’s history .  These included a very early story, “Medicine Rock” from 1935 as well as episode 40 from 1935 and episode 668 (!) from 1937.  The stories, even in expanded form, are relatively simplistic. “Medicine Rock” includes the line from Tonto, “Crow our best friends” and hinges on “friendly Indians” helping a wronged rustler.  Episode 40 gives the backstory as to how the Lone Ranger acquired Silver the horse which included the scene that could only be conjured in the imagination:  a horse fighting with a buffalo!  The narrator is keen to tell us that a “mysterious bond of friendship” developed between Silver and the Lone Ranger—Frederick Faust always did say a good horse is more important than a woman!  I had to admit I was, despite it all, shocked by Tonto’s slow, pigeon English, well-meaning though I’m sure the show’s writers/producers thought they were being, and from what I can tell, the film next year has kept such antiquated hogwash.  Hmmm.  Episode 668 was four times longer than “Medicine Rock” and far more involved, with plots of town-wide corruption. No sign of any women in this town, however.  Still, I have to say I preferred it to Bobby Benson and the B Bar B Riders. 

The Shadow

I heard a very interesting episode of The Shadow on the plane ride.  The episode is “The Blind Beggar” from June 26, 1938, and I can only assume the imitable Orson Welles is playing the title role.  What struck me about this story was how much its ethos and the character of the heroic but mysterious Shadow shared in common with Batman, though he was created in the next year.  This must be a salient thread in the late 1930s.  Lamont Cranston shares with Bruce Wayne many things:  firstly, an alter ego as an intelligent and affluent man-about-town.  Whereas Bruce Wayne acquires characters like Robin and Alfred the butler as sidekicks, Lamont has his assistant/girlfriend, which is a fabulous show of faith.  The Shadow has no special powers other than apparent invisibility which is a superb idea to illustrate on radio.  You don’t have to stretch incredulity on the big screen with a character who is, to all intents and purposes, a voice; it works on radio, and the Shadow is sufficiently tonally different to Lamont that this is possible.  “He doesn’t need a gun,” and though his methods have less to do with the gadgets that Batman uses, there does seem to be a need for the Shadow not to use guns.  (Compare this with Red Ryder and his famous BB gun.)   While Batman capitalizes on the superstition and fear of criminals, the Shadow uses similar criminal psychology and, in this episode especially, champions the underdog.  I find it very heart-warming that the plotline of this episode has to do with criminal gangs extorting panhandlers and hobos, and that the Shadow gains these people’s trust.  The scene when the disenfranchised gang up on the criminals is thrillingly reminiscent of the climax to Tad Browning’s Freaks.  “The crowd may be lame and blind but I wouldn’t bet on your chances.”