C. L. MOORE'S SHAMBLEAU
Adapted for audio by Sarah Montegue and Bert Ross
Directed by Yuri Rasovsky for 2000x
Featuring the voices of:
Kristoffer Tabori as Northwest Smith
George Murdock as Yarol
Ann Marie Lee as (the) Shambleau
"Shambleau" is the first of C. L. Moore's tales chronicling the exploits of the classic science fiction adventurer, Northwest Smith. It regularly appears on any list of the best classic SF stories ever written. It is also one of the stories that got this reviewer into science fiction and people always get nervous when their personal favorites are dramatized. I shouldn't' have been. Listen to this tape. Better yet, buy this tape and listen to it a lot.
Sarah Montague and Bert Ross have taken a story heavy with rich introspective and descriptive prose and turned it into pure dialogue. There is no narration and the temptation to include it must have been incredible. Instead Montegue and Ross have used the dialogue that exists as a template and created speech after speech that dovetails neatly into C. L. Moore's writing style. It is that rarest of audio adaptations, the fully dramatized script masterfully realized.
George Murdock is a strong and highly believable Northwest Smith, a cynical and self-confident man who commits an uncharacteristic act of compassion only to find himself being slowly sucked into a situation that endangers not only his life but his very soul. Kristoffer Tabori plays Smith's partner and friend, Yarol the Venusian, with the smiling folksiness and menace of a young Sidney Greenstreet. But the heart and soul of this production is Ann Marie Lee as (the) Shambleau. Her gasps, sighs and whispered whimpers convey an innocence and vulnerability that makes the production's resolution even more horrific, if possible, than in the original classic story.
The production values are rich and layered without distracting from the actors or the story.
Two minor quibbles - for some reason the authors seem to have a problem with Smith's first name. His full name is said only once - the rest of time he is just Smith. Or even worse, Smitty. The other quibble has to do with the description of the piece on the 2000x website that manages to give the entire story away in just one sentence.
But when all is said and done, "Shambleau" is a production that should make all involved very proud.
I think C. L. Moore would be.
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