Kneel Downe’s THE COPPER CASCADE CHRONICLES is an audio drama which was birthed on twitter and arrives to us now as an audio play, voiced and produced by friend of this parish and all round talented fucker R J Bayley. Relevant to our interests, the drama is a subversive superhero epic which is light on action and big on weirdness.
More influenced by ‘Watchmen’ than ‘Action Comics’, the narrative is built around the audio tapes of Dr. Paul Nyman as he interviews the various numbers of a super(heroes?) who come with delightful monikers like Dark Deliverance, The Creeping Creeper and Bloodpunch. It’s clear from the Doctor’s numbered introductions that these tapes are extensive and so we are really only presented with glimpses of a much larger piece. As you would expect, Downe’s script plays with the interactions between Nyman and his patients. As the consistent character, he is our view to the world and we learn as much from his reactions to his charges as we do their actions.
The highlight of of the show revolves around weary Nyman’s attempts to draw some sanity and consistency out of Captain Photon, a grandiose character who mixes the delivery of The Tick with the self delusion of Buzz Lightyear. Elsewhere there is a creepy hypnosis scene, and a character who speaks in two voices, on slightly ahead of the other which is a little unsettling to hear.
While this interview approach gives us a great introduction to the each character on the roll call, the story itself struggles for pace as the listener seeks to patch together the events that led to the inmates’ incarceration. There were times when I wanted the funny parts to be funnier and the creepy parts to be creepier, and to dig in more to the world’s connective tissue. We bounce from character to character and burn through a lot of content without much narrative. If, like me, you are a sucker for a more traditional path, you may find this frustration. However, once you accept THE COPPER CASCADES as more of a mood piece and introduction to a tone and universe, there is much more fun to be had.
Hooray then for Bayley who, incredibly, does all the voices of all the characters, but you’d never know it. Shading each character with not only different accents, but cadence and pitch, the drama is a real pleasure to listen to and he gives some real edge to some of the less pleasant characters.
I am not a big audio drama guy, and the format took some time for me to adjust. That said, Downe as created much to enjoy here and if you’re nerdy (ha, you are) I think there is nourishment waiting for you in THE COPPER CASCADE CHRONICLES.
You can buy it HERE
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