There isn’t much time left to listen to these; I only just discovered them on BBC Radio 4. The drama is G.K. Chesterton’s “The Club of Queer Trades” and stars Martin Freeman. I’ve found the two episodes I’ve listened to so far to be entertaining and very much like the book. My favorite story out of the bunch is the first one, “The Tremendous Adventures of Major Brown.” If you have some time, give them a try. I’ve been listening while working on making valentines.
Tag Archives: audio/radio-dramas
I recently published my book review of “Titus Groan,” by Mervyn Peake (read it here) and suddenly the BBC is airing it’s audio dramatized version of the story! I am preparing to start reading the second book in the series soon (“Gormenghast”), so I thought I’d better prepare by brushing up my memory on the details of the first.
I found this to be a very faithful and rather good adaptation. The best part about it is that it does not lose the flavor of the book’s descriptions and vocabulary. It seemed to be well cast, though the parts of Lady Gertrude and Irma Prunsquallor seemed be more ’emphasis’ rather than ‘acting.’ You can tell by the tedious melodramatic deliverances of lines instead of actually owning them.
You can click to listen to it for free for a limited time.
Plot Summary: Once upon a time there was an infant son and heir born to the Groan family of Gormenghast Castle. His name was Titus and being so young he was yet unaware of the long line of history and tradition of which he stood in line to inherit. But things were turned on their head (quite literally) on the day of his christening, and strange events began to unfold that are even stranger than the world into which he was born.
My Book Review: The Gormenghast series by Mervyn Peake has been on my reading list from very early on. I believe it was a discovery made while perusing the Dover catalog. I really had no idea what it was about, which sometimes leads to interesting discoveries. In this case, it was a very interesting discovery indeed, and has become one of my top reads for this year so far.
This isn’t normally a book I would have picked out for myself, so it’s probably a good thing I didn’t know what it was about. I’m proud of myself for completing such a thick book. I’m also usually more action-oriented, whereas this is more character driven. There is not a lot of action and when there is there is always a slow buildup to it, making those scenes stand out more. I tend to quickly forget details and character names of a lot of the books I read, but not this one. The scenes in this book stand out clear and defined in my mind, in large part due to great detailed descriptions. With names like ‘Prunesquallor’, ‘Nannie Slagg’, and ‘Countess Gertrude Groan’, they’re hard to forget. And the author’s own illustrations of many of them are wild and memorable as well.
Even better than just the names and pictures are the full-bodied characters themselves. You really have to read the book for yourself to make them come alive, and once you do I can almost guarantee they will live forever in your mind. The insane Lord Sepulchrave, the 76th Earl of Gormenghast, who thinks he’s an owl; his epileptic twin sisters Cora and Clarice who are stupid and vacant-minded; the vain, middle aged Irma Prunesquallor in love with a teenager; and the sociopathic Steerpike, the young puppet master behind the inhabitants of the castle. These aren’t all the colorful people of the story; there are many more besides. It’s ironic that the title character really doesn’t play a major role in this first of the series. In fact it really only covers the first year or two of his life, but all the important things that occurred during it.
It’s hard to put a finger on why I liked this novel so much. At times it seemed rather dark, and longwinded, yet the wonderful descriptions and the weirdness of it all lured me on. The author had a way of making even peeling paint sound interesting. I think one of my favorite scenes was the description of Fuchsia’s attic hideaway. Who wouldn’t want a great hidey-hole retreat like that all to oneself?
Is this book fantasy? I would not call it that, although it is set in a fantasy world. If you go into it expecting fantasy, you might be bored. It is not set in a particular time era, though the closest one might get is the 1880’s-1910 era with a fantastical twist.
Some say this book reads of despair and futility. It is dark and the people of Gormeghast do live futile lives of pointless ritual, but the unusual turn of things as Titus grows gives a glimpse that things may change with Titus as heir… ?
One caution: there is one chapter in which a character, Keda, has a one-night stand with a lover.
I’ve read that there is more than one audio drama of this series, and also a movie, but I don’t see how any of them can be as good as the novel. If I ever come across them, I’ll surely review it and post if worth it.
Titus Groan won’t be for everyone. But I’ve certainly learned that character-driven books can be just as interesting (or even more so) than the plotted ones. I’m not sure what the other books in the series will be like, but I can’t wait to see what will happen in the next installment of Titus Groan’s life. The entire series are as follows:
- Titus Groan
- Boy in Darkness
- Titus Alone
- Titus Awakes
I also recommend…
I came across something entirely new to me– the ATC Seneca Awards, which recognizes the best in family audio dramas. The Awards are according to the opinions of the Audio Theatre Central podcast which you can check out here. I thought it would be fun to dredge up trailers for as many nominations as I could find and collect them all in one place on this post. Audio dramas are a great source of favorite family memories and long car trip entertainment. Have fun!
Captain Bayley’s Heir – (Heirloom Audio Productions; John Fornof (writer/director); starring John Rhys Davies, Finty Williams)
The Trials of St. Patrick – (AIR Theatre; Paul McCusker (writer/director); Philip Glassborow (producer); starring John Rhys Davies)
Ode to Saint Cecelia – (AIR Theatre; Paul McCusker (writer/director); starring Derek Jacobi, Hayley Atwell)
The Giant Killer – (Lamplighter Theatre; John Fornof)
Wulf the Saxon (couldn’t find a trailer) – (Heirloom Audio Productions; Todd Busteed (writer/director); John Campbell (score))
*You can find reviews of all of these audio dramas and more on the ATC podcast.
In case you didn’t know, the 2018 Audie Awards are being hosted tonight! You can watch it live on Facebook here.
You can also view a list of the nominations by clicking here. Among the names and titles that caught my eye:
Paul McCusker’s audio drama (I didn’t know he had a new one!) entitled Brother Francis, and starring Geoffrey Palmer. He also has another audio drama I didn’t know about!: “The Trials of St. Patrick” (starring John Rhys-Davies).
Treasure Island is also among the nominated audio dramas.
Rachel McAdams is nominated for Best Female narrator for “Anne of Green Gables.” (Does her red hair make her sounder redder?)
Both Kenneth Branagh and Stephen Fry are up for Best Male narrators for “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Sherlock Holmes” (respectively).
Martin Sheen narrated “The Home Front” and Phylicia Rashad narrated “My Life, My Love, My Legacy” –they are nominated for Best History.
“Captain Bayley’s Heir” (Heirloom Audio Productions) is another audio drama, nominated for Faith Based productions.
Another Christian fiction title is “Catching the Wind,” by Melanie Dobson.
For classics lovers, “Daisy Miller” (Henry James) and “Phineas Finn” (Anthony Trollope) are nominated.
I just noticed that Johnny Heller is being nominated for his part in “Wedgie & Gizmo”. I had the privilege of seeing him and his wife in person, and asking a few questions. (I’m name-dropping now; I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t know me from Adam.)
Oh yeah– and let’s not forget Scott Brick. 😉
Have you listened to any of these? Feel free to provide reviews!
Happy Easter! Do you remember your earliest Easter memories from when you were a kid? I remember one of mine is listening to a dramatized version of the death, burial, and resurrection story of Christ being played on the radio on Good Friday. It was a departure from the norm (usually it was a music station). The solemnity of the event came across very clear to my mind. It felt like I was actually listening in on the true events as they were happening. I couldn’t have been more than 6 at the time.
Audio dramatizations can have such an impact on our lives, especially children. I came across this blog post from Audio Theatre Central listing a bunch of religious, Easter-themed audio dramas for families to enjoy and links to be able to purchase them from Amazon. I have listened to a couple of them and I have to say that Ben-Hur is my favorite! Do you have any others you would add to the list?
Enjoy your weekend!