Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sometime Never - AudioReview

Article author: Alwyn Ash

"This is my experiment, not yours!"

7th July 1983. Ghost hunter Nancy Timperley visits what used to be the Summervale Holiday Camp, on the East Yorkshire Coast - the location of a tragedy that took place many years earlier. Tape recorder at the ready, she calls out to the spirits, hoping for a connection with the supernatural. However, out of the darkness steps the mysterious David Voland... He is friendly, engaging, and seems to know a great deal... But what is his connection with Nancy's work? Come to think of it, just what is Nancy's connection with ghost hunting? There are mysteries to uncover...

"Sometime Never" is new ground for Spokenworld Audio, a company that has, until now, focused solely on single-voiced dramatic readings and radio documentaries. New territory perhaps, but not an unfamiliar one to award-winning writer and director Neil Gardner, whose hard work and dedication (along with his team, including partner Tanja Glittenberg) has seen an increase in productivity. And so, 2014 welcomes the first full-cast audio from Spokenworld, starring Simon Jones and Rosalyn Landor, with a thoroughly intruiging story written by Scott Harrison.

Almost half an hour in length, this is one tale that crafts an instant ear-grabber, enhanced with fabulous sound design, and music by James Dunlop. Nancy has been to Summervale before, as a child, the sole survivor of a devastating fire that caused the death of 500 people. David, however, is far from being just a passer-by, for he carries a secret that must remain hidden. Via flashback, we learn of the shocking truth, and the length someone must go to to protect their children. It is a look at morality and consequence. It does also make you think, about how we live our lives, and what defines us, and how we may be perceived. Loss plays a huge part in this story, perfectly performed by the cast.

Fans of popular sci-fi comedy series "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (created by English writer Douglas Adams) will no doubt be familiar with Jones' work: he played lead character Arthur Dent in both the radio and television series! In addition, his career has graced both film and stage. Other work includes various voice acting and audiobooks such as "The Adventures of Sexton Blake", which originally broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in 2009. It is therefore rather delightful to find this highly-esteemed actor playing the part of David in "Sometime Never". That is the beauty of Spokenworld, casting actors of this caliber and really giving the listener something to cherish. Equally rewarding is the performance by Landor as Nancy - an award-winning audiobook narrator, this lady is known for roles including that of Helen Burns in the 1970 film adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre", as well as her being cast as Pru Standfast in British television series "C.A.T.S. Eyes", spin-off from police drama "The Gentle Touch".

Neil Gardner and James Dunlop have worked together previous to "Sometime Never" on the second series of "The Confessions of Dorian Grey", published by audio company Big Finish, in 2013. Clearly the working relationship established during this period has grown to developement of other equally as stunning projects, and we can only benefit from such a collaboration. Full-cast audios are enriched by skillful sound design and music, capturing vivid imagery that permeates the mind and senses, and Spokenworld know this all too well - Harrison's script has been brought to life in the best way possible, the perfect "calling card" for a new audience whilst pleasing regular fans too!

Gardner has been a champion of audio for over twenty-four years, with a deep passion for independent productions. He has always believed in the medium, and appreciates its qualities and diversity. After all, where else can you create kingdoms, universes and magic on a respectable budget? Sound has the ability to engage in history, culture, religion... and conflict, whether it be either personal or global. For him "Sometime Never" also signals a dream come true, as he says: "I launched Spokenworld Audio in 2010 specifically to get to a time and place where we would be able to do just this sort of thing, commission and produce our own audio drama."

With further two-person audiobooks coming in 2014, and a feature-length full-cast project in the pipeline, things are looking fantastic for the team. I, for one, cannot wait to see what develops at Spokenworld HQ over the coming months. Having recently reviewed shorts "Twin Points" and "Inside The Machine" (which precede a collection of science-fiction stories to be launched this year), I can honestly say the future of independent audio is safe in the hands of these fine people! And with past and present collaborations including such names as Nicola Bryant, Emma Darwall-Smith, Michael Fenton Stevens, Barnaby Edwards, and Debbie Chazen (along with many more yet to come), the passion for audiobooks is reaching out to a diverse public whose own tastes are as varied and appetising...

Final mention must go to Harrison, who not only engineers a well-thought out idea for "Sometime Never" but shows genius in his approach, masterfully teasing us with a plot that will not only surprise but satisfy too - with past work including projects for Big Finish such as "Blake's 7" and "The Confessions of Dorian Gray", what else can you expect?

You can obtain the audiobook of "Sometime Never" for download at
Spokenworld Audio (£3.99 ex. VAT for UK/EU)