THE LAST HARBINGER is a satiric vision of an obscenely grotesque world.
Written, Directed and Produced by Roger Gregg
Script Editor: Simon O’Gorman.
The story begins as a strange Harbinger is sent on a mission to a place called Moloch.
Moloch is an absurdly brutal world where the vanity of the elite compels them to spend
more on unnecessary cosmetic surgery than on medicines for children in poverty.
A world wherein a twisted religious ideology applauds the materially well-off while
condemning the homeless. A world rapidly destroying its environment.
A world with precious little compassion. In short: Moloch is a civilisation destroying itself.
I have been listening to a lot of audio drama for over a year and had started to despair that the ratio of quality time to dead time was going to stay permanently at about 1:10. (I am omitting OTR from this ratio). My "tune in time" had dropped to about two minutes per production. This is the length of time it takes me to remember that a good book provides better "pictures in my mind". Then along comes Harbinger and changes all my expectations of what it could and should be like. Crazy Dog has now spoiled me in that I will not be able to listen to anything else without making subconscious comparisons with Harbinger. But that's good.
I hasten to add that my experience with audio drama as an adult goes back only about 18 months. For all I know, the situation was much better at some time before that. Indeed, listening to archival Firesign and Corwin tells me that it was.
I've listened to the Harbinger series many times in an attempt to identify, as a non-producing listener, what makes it so good and learn from it and so improve my own non-audio efforts. My observations (take them for what they're worth):
1. It has all the elements working:
2. The enormously talented cast and direction. Not once, in the entire 150 minutes, is there any hint of loss of focus by the actors.
3. It is not overstated. It does not sermonize, harangue, or reprimand. It accepts that we are in Moloch. It's that (audio) mirror that major theatre (stage) seems to have abandoned for the quick re-run buck and the desire to not force the audience to think. [Current TV fare is, in general, written for teens by the teen-brained and remains beyond the Pale of intelligent discourse].
4. Harbinger is real. It is not hours of people at microphones screaming at one another, putting each other down in the name of humor, or telling badly synchronized jokes. In fact, there isn't a mic anywhere in "sight.” Harbinger uses the medium to the max. Another way of saying it is that it is not a stage play or TV sitcom transferred unchanged to audio only (a la some BBC fare). Come to think of it, a good test to see if an audio drama is “in the medium”, might be to imagine trying to produce the same script on a stage or in a TV studio. If you visualize it as being impossible, you may well be using the audio medium to the max.
5. It is absolutely relevant. It has depth. Listen again and hear more. This is no self-indulgent, surface-issue-diatribe for voice actors concerning the woes of the writer (if there is one). The satire is sharp and unambiguous. "The 'News" is reality. If we say it, it's true. The more we say it the more true it is and you better believe it". Remind you of anyone? One hopes that it is not a harbinger of things to come, but one is afraid it might be in a time of looming pandemics, inept leadership, casual warfare, and politicians who run from questions and then can't find their way off the stage.
6. The whole thing is acoustically balanced. I'm no acoustic aesthete so what I think I mean is the production never gets in the way of the other elements. It is not a symphonic suite of SFX with a tacked-on story that has its audience running a gauntlet of audio mortar fire.
7. The visual picture is complete. This is hard to describe. It is a personal feeling that I am part of the dramatic action. Maybe it is that it sticks to the rules of the distressful place created and never threatens my suspension of disbelief.
8. Last but not least, the CD recording is clarity itself (there is a lovely warmth to the sound) and the package (case and booklet) is very tastefully and professionally done.
I hope Roger Gregg and his Crazy Dogs can keep the bar this high for a long time to come.
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