The London Below Cast
I loved ‘Neverwhere’. I loved the writing, I loved the storyline, I loved the people. I was in love with Benedict Cumberbatch from the word Go, and I feel in love with rest of the cast in the first 10 minutes. I started listening for a number of reasons, the first two being Benedict Cumberbatch; the third, the author; the fourth, the hype and the fifth, because it was an audio play. Radio dramas aren’t a form I’m familiar with but I wanted to try harder to soak it in. I’m a little late to join The Archers but ‘Neverwhere’ was a six part series and I knew when and where it would be playing.
For those of you that have no idea what I am talking about, ‘Neverwhere’ is a tales by Neil Gaiman; author, screen writer and Tumblr royalty. One evening Richard (James McAvoy), an unassuming young businessman living in London, stops to help a poor injured girl on the street, an act which suddenly causes him to be erased from his ordinary, everyday life, and which catapults him into the mysterious subterranean world of London Below.
The dramatization by Dirk Maggs (great name) deserved all the praise it got. It’s funny and gripping, full of darkness and light, and all the other oxymoronic turns of phrase I can think of. It was all the things. What it did best though was open my eyes to what was possible. In my stage writing, I rely a lot on visuals, on the unsaid. I like awkward pauses and the richness of subtext. What ‘Neverwhere’ showed me is this can be achieved with just sound. Credit must be given to Maggs’ sound design; the layers of his work help the audience’s imagination create London Below and the characters that dwell there.
I hope those that have heard ‘Neverwhere’ are inspired. I hope that a new generation see radio drama in a different light, there’s a lot more to it than the Archers. As a result, I have treated myself to ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, the original BBC series, on audio. I’ve also been given the kick up the bum I needed to write for a local audio company, Frequency Theatre in Colchester. Audio is a format that cannot be ignored; after all, so many people had their start in the BBC radio studios, not the television studio.