In March of this year, courtesy of Radio Static, I was introduced to a wonderful science-fiction audiodrama: The Minister Of Chance.
The Minister of Chance, is a masterfully independently produced audio drama from the UK. Superbly acted, with an amazing cast of characters, and with rich, lavish, immersive soundscapes, you are magically hurled into the reality that is this story. Written by Dan Freeman–other credits include the BBC Doctor Who radio series Death Comes To Time–this series is created around the character of The Minister, who was introduced in Death Comes To Time.
In Episode 1: The Broken World, you’ll hear the voices of:
- Julian Wadham – The Minister
- Jenny Agutter – Professor Cantha
- Lauren Crace – Kitty
- Paul Darrow – Lord Rathen
- Stuart Fox – Porcher
- Richard Garaghty – Match Werming
- Lloyd Hutchinson – Menin
- Gareth Jones – Corporal Sona
- Petra Massey – Gurk
- Sylvester McCoy – The Witch Prime
- Paul McGann – Durian
- Kane Sharpe – Rosta
In Epidode 2: The Forest Shakes, you’ll hear the voices of:
- Julian Wadham ……….The Minister
- Jenny Agutter ……….Professor Cantha
- Gethin Anthony ……….Sutu
- Lauren Crace ……….Kitty
- Paul Darrow ……….Lord Rathen
- Stuart Fox ……….Drengess
- Peter Guinness ……….The Horseman
- Sylvester McCoy ……….The Witch Prime
- Paul McGann ……….Durian
- Kane Sharpe ……….Rosta
- Jay Taylor ……….Ilias
- Luke Carroll ……….Private Merat
- Andrew Martyn-Lewis ……….Private Devian
- Rachel Spicer ……….Mother
- Jamie Wallwork ……….Captain Varian
- Alex Warren ……….Captain Janthorn
The Minister of Chance is a work of wonderful science-fiction, in which science has been outlawed in favour of magic, scientists are imprisoned by the ruling magic class in order to fashion weapons of mass destruction and war has broken out. The story may not be new but the way in which it is delivered certainty is. It is a wonderful commentary on many of today’s current issues in the world; from the battle between superstitious thinking and science, the struggles in the Middle East for democracy and freedom and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. When Episode 1 was recorded last summer, the struggles of Northern Africa had not yet begun, however the Iranian protests were not a distant memory.
Entertaining and engaging, I found myself having to re-listen to Episode 1 a few times, as there is just so much going on and layer upon layer of rich sounds, which caused me to get lost in them and caused me to want to listen one more time, in order to hear all that was going on. Then that one more time became another, until I had realised I was listening to it for the forth time.
Normally, my brain has issues listening to audio-only which requires active listening–audiobooks as an example–rather than passive listening–music as an example. I do not do well when read to, unless I am following along with the reader. Unless I am engaged in conversation or watching a presentation, my mind gets bored and I wander and drift away into other worlds. Listening to The Minister of Chance, I never got bored as it allowed me to wander and drift into the world of Tanto and drink up the atmosphere. I could smell, taste, see and touch the environment.
Aside from the wonderful sound and voice acting, the dialogue is brilliant. It is witty, charming, intelligent, humorous and you may not want to sit down with grandmum over tea to listen. There is some not suitable for work language, however it is never gratuitous. Every thing is purposeful and I think it serves its purpose well.
In Episode 2, the dialogue is still brilliant and witty. The soundscapes are still rich, lush and elaborate; transporting you to another world, one that you can not only hear but see, feel, smell and taste. The action is fast-paced, moving forward with tremendous speed.
Perhaps that could be my only real criticism of Episode 2. Near the beginning, I had a wee bit of a problem following along as it jumped from one of the story lines to the next and then back again, a little too quickly, making it difficult for me to keep up. However, after the first 10 or so minutes, it developed at a much more comfortable pace, leaving me on the edge of my seat.
There is a bit of violence and brutality in Episode 2, however, none of it is unnecessary or gratuitous. It may startle the listener but when these events do take place, they are quick and to the point, illustrating just how dire the situation is. The underlying messages, from Episode 1, about the events of the Middle and Near East are still very much present, but not in your face. As is the message about the current struggles between empirical thinking and superstitious thinking. New to Episode 2 is the question: When is okay to kill? It is a very difficult question, one which is often debated and with passion. I think this question was presented and debated–through the dialogue–quite responsibly.
By the time Episode 2 finishes, the listener is left asking a lot of questions and wanting answers for those questions. Without being punny, it leaves a lot of doors open. I really hope that more episodes are made because I want these questions answered. Even the simple ones, such as, “Who is this bloody horseman, how does The Minister know him and why is he such a threat? And what about those moving stars?” However, none of my questions will be answered unless people purchase Episodes 1 and 2.
The Minister of Chance is a completely independent production; the only funding coming from sales. As it currently stands, Episodes 1 and 2 are the only episodes to be produced and will remain as such until funding allows for the creation of more.
You can download the free prologue here. There is NSFW language in the prologue as well.
Then be sure to purchase Episodes 1 & 2. For only £1.29, it is more than worth it.