Audible’s new full cast drama Alien: River Of Pain, bridges the gap between Alien and Aliens. Indeed it includes the scenes of Ripley awakening aboard Gateway Station and her facing the Weyland-Yutani board of inquiry from the aforementioned sequel. Based upon the novel by Christopher Golden, Alien: River of Pain tells the story of the ill-fated terraforming colony Hadley's Hope on the planetoid Acheron, better known to Ripley and Alien fans as LV-426. As this story begins we learn that very little of the planetoid has been explored so the vessel that the Nostromo crew encountered has yet to be discovered, but when it is things quickly go to hell. The drama ends just as Ripley and the colonial marines make the drop to the planetoids surface. A note to future colonists, if somebody names a planet after a river from ancient Greek mythology, which translates as ‘River of Pain’, maybe think twice about going.
The cast is an outstanding smorgasbord of familiar genre talent, which includes Anna Friel (Pushing Daises) Alexander Siddig (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Colin Salmon (Alien vs. Predator, Arrow), Philip Glenister (Outcast, Life On Mars), Marc Warren (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell), Michelle Ryan (Bionic Woman) and William Hope (Aliens) reprising his role of Lieutenant Gorman from Aliens.
This is a solid piece of entertainment and maintains the feel of the second movie, although the pacing has more in common with Alien. If anything, depending upon your point of view, this might be the productions only flaw. Whereas Audible’s previous audio drama Alien: Out of the Shadows was a pedal-to-the-metal action fest, River of Pain is more of a thoughtful character study and an exploration of what motivates individuals and families to travel to the arse end of space to terraform such inhospitable worlds. Only towards the end of this five-hour drama does the Xenomorph mayhem occur, which for the more action-orientated listener may be a case of too little, too late.
Alien: River Of Pain is directed by the multi-award winning Dirk Maggs. Best known for his adaptations of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy and Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere for the BBC, you are immediately assured that you'll hear a slickly produced and atmospheric production. The sound design is exceptional. There's a sense of depth and space to the crews recreational areas, yet a muted quality in confined spaces. You can almost feel the grit of LV-426 stirred up by the violent winds and smell the discharge of a plasma rifle as the sound is so encompassing. So plug in some headphones, darken the room and let yourself be washed away by the River of Pain.
ALIEN: RIVER OF PAIN / DIRECTOR: DIRK MAGGS / WRITER: CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN / STARRING: ANNA FRIEL, ALEXANDER SIDDIG, COLIN SALMON, PHILIP GLENISTER, MARC WARREN, MICHELLE RYAN, WILLIAM HOPE / PUBLISHER: AUDIBLE STUDIOS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW