Author: Dirk Maggs’ adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel ‘Neverwhere’
Genre: Fantasy Drama
Publisher: The audio adaptation was by Radio 4 and the book was published by Headline Publishing Group in 2005.
Voices: An absolutely stellar cast including some big names: James McAvoy, Sophie Okonedo and Benedict Cumberbatch,
Broadcast: March 2013 – Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra
Stand alone or Series: A six part adaption of Neil Gaiman’s novel ‘Neverwhere’.
Why: My partner received Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ series for Christmas last year and has since been promoting the author’s talents.
Refreshments: The sinister style of the audio doesn’t make for a great eating environment. However, since it’s set in London how about a good ale!
Richard Mayhew is a young businessman whose life is looking pretty bright. Living in London, he enjoys a good job and is engaged to a beautiful woman until one simple act of kindness catapults him out of his safe and predictable life and into the world of ‘London Below.’ In this world he finds a city of monsters, saints, murderers and angels. There’s a girl named Door, our leading lady, who is trying to discover what happened to her family and who opens…doors. In his reluctant quest to help Door, Richard also encounters the Angel called Islington, an Earl who holds Court on a Tube train, a Beast in a labyrinth, and a floating market – amongst other dangers and delights beyond his wildest dreams.
James McAvoy is brilliantly cast as Richard, our confused good Samaritan dragged from ‘London Above’. His youthful, Scottish accent translates well to portray the fear and general confusion that Richard feels as well as the rallying strength of the unexpected hero. Another stand-out is Cumberbatch as the Angel, Islington. His acting skills are especially notable in the final episode when his true nature and ulterior motives are revealed into a crescendo of music and rivetingly sinister drama. The voice of Anthony Head took me back to Buffy the Vampire watching days which was slightly disconcerting since his character, one half of sinister assassin team Croup and Vandemar, was a far cry from the kindly Librarian Giles.
The female characters also have exceptional actresses as their vocal counterparts. Sophie Okondeo, creates a convincingly strong character as Hunter, who is famed for her legendary defeat of underground beasts around the world. And Natalie Dormer is well cast as the mythical Door whose character is innocent and tinged with a beautifully portrayed sadness.
Gaiman has exceptional skills in creating different and dark worlds. His use of well-known areas of London to direct us around his fantasy land draws you and entangles you within the drama. This adoption also adds a hint of irony, especially when describing Westminster as a sewer and Knightsbridge as somewhere where your soul can be stolen.
In general, I am not usually one to choose fantasy as a genre. However, I found this immensely entertaining and would urge you to have a listen.
Rating: 9 out of 10 – I will be having a gander at the book