Two of the finest audio dramas I’ve ever heard (initially both courtesy of Radio Drama Revival last year) were Neverwhere by Dirk Maggs (an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman tale which appeared in both TV and book form) and Infidel by Roger Gregg of Crazy Dog Audio Theatre.
The first, Neverwhere, features a cast that wouldn’t look out of place on a big budget film set (including James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, Christopher Lee, and Benedict Cumberbatch) and seems to employ quite a bit of actor improvisation to give a really authentic and genuine feel to the dialogue and interactions between the characters. This was a studio recorded project, and the soundscapes that were built around each scene were beautify cinematic and immersive. It’s a shame that this drama wasn’t allowed to have the impact in mainstream culture that it deserved. The BBC didn’t do a lot to promote it, didn’t give it much time on the air (or iPlayer), and now it has to be purchased through Audible where people are only going to find it if they are actively looking for it.
The second is a very different type of production. Roger Gregg’s Infidel was field recorded in a castle in Ireland back in 2005/06. A historical drama set during the crusades, the soundscapes were atmospheric and authentic sounding, and this shows that – when done well enough – you can still field record a historical (or futuristic) drama with the right location, equipment, and production knowledge.
I’m hopeful of interviewing both Dirk Maggs and Roger Gregg in the future, it would be excellent to find out more about the production and creation of these two fantastic projects.