Red Moon – Moonrise

 

Those of you who have read my reviews of The Springheel Saga (Series I and II) will be familiar with the name Wireless Theatre.  The company produce high quality radio drama, which is made available via download from their website.  If you enjoyed Springheel Jack, or if you are a fan of alternate history tales, then you probably won’t want to miss this new mystery series.

It Monday, 3 December 1979, and Eddie Sloper is getting ready to go to work.  However it is not a 1979 any of us remember.  The split that created this timeline happened in 1968, when Yuri Gagarin became the first man on the moon.  With lunar bases and the moon being weaponised with nuclear warheads, the arms race between the US and the Soviets has expanded off-planet, with the result that the doomsday clock is now very close to midnight.

Eddie works for the British Space Liaison Department and much of the action in the first episode takes place there with very convincing performances from Philip Bulcock (Eddie) and Stephen Critchlow (as Eddie’s boss, Wilkins).  However, a lot of the soundscape of the piece is in the form of news reports which fill us in on both the background history and the continuing arms crisis.  I love the little details that has been added as well, such as Sid Vicious being on trial for murder (when in our timeline he had been dead for months), and the ad for “Space Snacks,” which sound like something I once purchased in the Cape Canaveral gift shop (pizza and ice cream were the two I bought).

As usual, this is a slick production, with excellent work from everyone on the team.  In particular the music, by Francesco Quadraruopolo, and the overall sound design, by Jim Sigee, contribute greatly to the atmosphere of the piece.  Furthermore, there is a very good balance between events on the world stage and Eddie’s story, whilst his voiceover helps to bring everything together.

Episode 1 ends on a cliffhanger, with a murder which will no doubt drive a lot of the action in further parts of the series, but don’t worry, because Episode 2 is available already, so you won’t have to wait to see what happens next!

Episode 1 of Red Moon is free to stream on Wireless Theatre’s audioBoom channel: https://audioboom.com/posts/6549173-red-moon-episode-one-moonrise-audio-drama.

Episode 2 and all further episodes are exclusive to the Wireless Theatre website: https://www.wirelesstheatrecompany.co.uk/product/red-moon-phase-ii-umbra/, with Episode 3 being released in March.  The story was conceived by Jack Bowman and Robert Valentine, with the latter also writing, directing and producing.

Mary Tynan

Cover art by @arbernaut

 

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Edinburgh Preview – Much Further Out Than You Thought

Much Further Out Than You Thought is a one-man show which tells the story of Lance Corporal James Randall, who finished his tours of duty in Helmand six years ago.  It is Remembrance Sunday, and he is in his living room in south London recording a birthday message for his young son, surrounded by childhood toys and memorabilia.  As the narrative progresses, it becomes clear that James is suffering from PTSD, and the audience learns how the collision of civilian Britain and front-line Afghanistan can lead to catastrophe.

I met with writer and actor Giles Roberts after the play’s preview at the Old Red Lion in Islington.  A charming and interesting man, he is as sympathetic and likeable as the character he portrays with such expertise.  Giles was quick to point out that Much Further Out Than You Thought is not intended to be anti-war propaganda – it is the individual story of a single soldier.  He does, however, object to the glamorisation of the army which appears to be taking place recently.

Although James Randall is fictional, Giles did have the help of two soldiers as consultants when he was writing the play.  He got the idea after watching a 1980s documentary called Four Hours in My Lai, about a massacre by US troops in Vietnam.  The personal testimonies of the soldiers particularly resonated with him, and he began to try to empathise with how an act of killing must irreparably alter a person, and how it influences them in the future.

We talked about the timelessness of the situation: young men are trained to kill, but what happens to that training when they come back home?  There has been a lot of talk about World War I in the last couple of years, and shell-shock cases have parallels with current incidences of PTSD.  But Giles emphasised that warfare is more asymmetrical now: there are no longer two rows of trenches and the enemy can be anyone and anywhere.  This causes the combatants to develop a sense of hyper-awareness, which, unfortunately cannot be easily turned off when they return to civilian life.

Despite having several writing credits for spoken word, Much Further Out Than You Thought is Giles’ first play.  As an actor, trained at the Oxford School of Drama, he has many credits to his name.  The play is directed by Bethany Pitts, and Giles spoke of the short rehearsal period with a director he already knew very well, and how interesting it was to come at the material from two different angles.  Much Further Out Than You Thought is the winner of a 2015 IdeasTap Underbelly Award.  With IdeasTap sadly having to close, Giles and Bethany will be among the last people to benefit from their invaluable help.

Much Further Out Than You Thought is at the Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly), 56 Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1EG, from Thursday 6th – Sunday 30th August 2015 (not 17th), at 3.20pm.  It is produced by the Molino Group.  For more information visit The Molino Group.