When I see a dazzling cast in films like Murder on the Orient Express, it reminds me how much I appreciate the dramatized programs that come to our audiobook ears. An audio drama brings the sound and lights into your personal soundspace. Whether it’s the footsteps behind you on a dark night, the tinkling of glasses as your heroine mixes a drink, or the bioengineered cat’s meow sound, effects and aural detail amplify the experience.
The audio drama of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS gets wonderful soundscape treatment with all the bells, and whistles. Two programs reviewed this week have a similar if not quite so lavish approach. THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY: BBC RADIO CASEBOOK VOL. 2, a second episode of Mma Ramotswe’s adventures, gets an Earphones Award—and promises more to come. And anyone old enough to remember the irascible British barrister Horace Rumpole should delight in his reappearance! RUMPOLE: THE PENGE BUNGALOW MURDERS & OTHER STORIES features the fresh voice of Benedict Cumberbatch.
There’s also the not-so-subtle approach—superheroes have been good for radio drama, and GraphicAudio’s partnership with Marvel has a smashing array of adapted audios with big soundscapes to match the universe of the characters. The newest, BLACK PANTHER, released this week, and the recent PLANET HULK features the hallmarks of big sound, action, and drama.
An interesting collection of stories from Margaret Atwood is adapted into ANGEL CATBIRD, with a mix of superheroes, anthropomorphic animals, and science-run-amok tropes.
Also new this week is HARRY CLARKE, a companion to Billy Crudup’s current one-man Broadway show. I want to call this humor “cheeky,” but since Crudup’s character is a fake Brit, you’ll have to decide for yourself.
A live audience can give listeners an even more “real theater” feel, and this style is the hallmark of L.A. Theatre Works. The new release of JEFFERSON’S GARDEN gives you that sense.
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