Audio Review: THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES

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REVIEW: THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES / AUTHOR: RAY BRADBURY / ADAPTED BY: RICHARD KURTI, BEV DOYLE / PUBLISHER: BBC RADIO 4 / STARRING: DEREK JACOBI, HAYLEY ATWELL, ANNA MADELEY, MARK LEWIS JONES, JOHN ALTMAN / ORIGINAL BROADCAST: JUNE 21ST / AVAILABLE: BBC IPLAYER RADIO

Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle have adapted Ray Bradbury’s 1950 mythic masterpiece The Martian Chronicles for Radio 4’s Dangerous Visions season. Their task – to condense the original set of almost 30 loosely intertwined tales into one coherent 60 minute epic.

With a vast amount of material to choose from the adaptation focusses on a main thread: Mars has canals and cities. And Martians, though they don’t survive long once humanity arrives. For our part we are fleeing war and our intentions for the red planet are far from noble. Against this backdrop we have a story of Captain Wilder (Jacobi) linking together a set of stories that starts with colonisation and ends back on Earth as Mas has already been abandoned.

There are four parts of which the most action packed sets the scene as Spender (Atwell) [who was male in the book] takes the side of the Martians against her own people. The rest of the hour unfolds with two rather more surreal stories of fast food, evacuation and one Earth family left behind on Mars. Finally Wilder is back on Earth but not before others set out once more to Mars.

Andrew Mark Sewell (B7 Media) directs events tightly and sound is by Alistair Lock (many Big Finish titles) with Dirk Maggs (HGTTG / Neverwhere) as Executive Producer.

The Martian Chronicles was first broadcast on June 21st 2014 and full details are available on the Radio 4 website, and there is also a preview (with slides) available there too

Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles is a work of surreal beauty and this production does a good job in condensing matters down to a coherent single drama. After a minor adjustment at hearing British accents in a story that is in places quintessentially American (in the book), this is an admirable rendition of a classic.

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