"Sean is one of the most remarkable readers in England," says Naxos Audiobooks' Nicolas Soames, who has produced Sean reading three works of world literature-BLEAK HOUSE, Haruki Murakami's KAFKA ON THE SHORE, and Samuel Beckett's WAITING FOR GODOT. Nicolas says Sean walks for an hour in the early morning through the streets of London to the studio: "He reads impeccably, then quietly walks home again, the traffic raging around him. No one would guess the marvels of literature he has just been producing." Yet, with characteristic reserve, Sean tells AudioFile, "Acting is telling a story. The author gives you the characters." Dickens characters may be clearly and broadly drawn, giving a narrator plenty of clues, but Murakami and Beckett offer up infinitely complex people who are not so easy. Sean seems to find their essence. Soames praises Sean's Nakata, Murakami's cat-finder, as "one of the great characters in the last decade." AudioFile reviews also celebrat Sean's "rich characterizations" and his ability to keep a blend of the real and surreal "totally engrossing."
Sean's career began in BBC children's television and encompasses years of radio dramas, theater credits in London, and many narrations that demonstrate his facility with accents and characters. He became a regular narrator with ISIS Audio Books in the 1980s. Recently, Sean appeared in a live reading program celebrating Samuel Beckett's centenary with Beckett's legendary London publisher, John Calder. Sean recorded Beckett's trilogy MOLLOY, MALLONE DIES, and UNNAMABLE for Naxos, winning our reviewer's praise for capturing "an authentic flavor, reflecting the text's Irish melodiousness, pessimism, and black humor."
As the armored bear Iorek Byrnison and Lord Asriel from full cast recordings of Philip Pullman's THE GOLDEN COMPASS and THE AMBER SPYGLASS, Sean has won many fans. These remarkable performances are unique, and it is difficult to imagine a film or stage performance of Iorek that will ever have the power and passion of Sean's portrayal.
The suspense novels of James Herbert (SHRINE), Gerald Seymour's HOLDING THE ZERO, and John Creed's SIRIUS CROSSING show off Sean's talent with characters of many nationalities, genders, and social stations. Each of them gets Sean's full attention--a lesson he learned from his early days of radio drama at the BBC. "Whatever the story, if you can give it attention and full values, you can make it good." Some voices just command or beguile you into listening. Sean Barrett's is one of them.--Robin Whitten
- 2006 Narrators Yearbook