This week’s podcast came recommended by Odin1Eye; pirate, podcaster, and podcast reviewer par excellence. It is his blog that I owe my review format to. So, check out View From Valhalla. This week I review the audio drama, The Mask of Inanna.
Synopsis: The world isn’t kind to dreamers.
Like any boy of the radio era, Leonard Allen dreamed of hitting big in New York and Hollywood; to write or host that one big show that would make everyone notice. Even after he had his chance at both, that dream still burns inside him. He’s always been able to spark the divine somewhere in his work. And he’s been noticed.
He doesn’t know the lengths people will go to take advantage of such gifts. So when the mysterious David Lewis asked him finish his classic radio drama “After Dark” after a half-century from a pirate radio station in a New England lighthouse, Len didn’t realize it wasn’t as simple as that. The truth is that Lewis served a more powerful entity than even public opinion: the goddess Inanna, Sumerian patron of love and war both.
Sometimes, a god wants a sacrifice. Sometimes, a god wants praise and devotion. But the most fickle, and the most dangerous, are those who demand a show.
Journey into the creative mind of award-winning author Alicia Goranson, as she explores the nature of power and those who covet it in a genre-busting work that blends classic fifties radio drama, tense, paranoia-fueled thrillers, and the intimate knowledge born of a career working behind-the-scenes in the performing arts. Marvel at a stunning collection of award-winning stage actors, the Post-Meridian Players, as they provide the voice and heart to a cast of over thirty. Follow Allen and Lewis as their ideological conflict threatens to consume their friends and family, a battle neither can yield.
Is magic simply a tool, or a living thing to be respected? Does man have a right to make demands of the gods? What lengths would you go to for the power to protect what you love? Whatever you believe, don’t get caught out After Dark, in THE MASK OF INANNA.
Production: This is an audio drama that’s split between audio formats and time periods. Part of the production, the “real” story is as crisp as you could ask for. The parts that are “broadcast” over the radio have the sorts of artifacts you’d expect. It really is quite clever and well done. If I have a complaint, it’s that some of the dialog was hard to hear when they went really heavy with the sound effects. There’s some irony there, when I heard a line about how crucial it is not to miss a word in the old radio play days. I didn’t miss any important dialog, that I know of, but it costs them a few points.
Cast: Apparently the cast are part of a community theater group in Boston. They really are all quite talented. As I’ll get to in a minute, they’re stretched over multiple characters and I was never disappointed. The chemistry between Scotty and Len was perfect.
Story: There’s a lot going on here. You have the story that takes place in the fifties, that of a group of radio players who are split up by one of the stars going to Hollywood to seek fame. Then there’s the present day story of the former radio star being taken out of his retirement home in order to relive his glory days on a little island while assuming the role of a lighthouse caretaker. Finally, you have nine or ten stories that make up the broadcast of “After Dark”, the radio show that all the hubbub us about.
The main story, almost a framing device, but a lot more, is well written. I do have a pet peeve with any story that jumps around in the time stream as much as this one does. I’m much more a fan of linear story telling. Still, the way it plays out, it never failed to catch and keep my interest. It all starts out as very “real” and the deeper you get into the story the more fantastic things become.
The After Dark episodes are fantastically cheesy, both the story telling and the acting. That’s all very appropriate for what they were trying to do. My favorite (and it might just be because it was the last one) was the Sinbad story.
The mark of really good story telling is that it makes me think about a lot of things. This is more than just entertainment. There’s love, sacrifice, the power or friendship, the power of STORY, and it asks the question, “what would you give up for the people closest to you?” Mask is top notch.
This is a matter of personal preference, but I will be dinging them a little for the jumping around. I also had a little trouble getting into it initially. I like a mystery and a slow build, but it was almost too slow. Ultimately it was worth it.
Verdict: If you’re a fan of audio drama then there’s a good chance you’ve already heard this. If you’re a fan of old school radio shows I’m sure you’d love it. Each episode is at least and hour and there are ten of them. You’re in for at least twelve hours of solid entertainment. Put this near the top of your list.