Upon arrival at O N C A the event looked like a private viewing of a production. The space was picturesque, eccentric and hosted at an art gallery. The room hosted a selection of around 30 people, yet that night over 40 people were present, thanks to the three talented voice actors who embodied a multitude of identities on stage. Decorated with illustrations that accompany each of the saga’s online episodes, the scene was welcoming, warm and wondrous.
The Saga of the European King follows a Medieval King who is determined to kill Winter but on his adventures he stumbles upon America. In this season finale the King and his friends decide to conquer the States by defeating their former president: a dragon. Alongside the main plot, we see the King’s ex-wife planning to sabotage his plans, a heartwarming father-son reunion, an emotional duel to the death between two friends, interventions from an apathetic talking sword and a culmination of otherworldly and wild adventures.
Tom McNally’s friendly and high energy introduction to the story assured a lasting positive and entertaining ambience throughout the evening. Beside him stood Amy Sutton and Joshua Crisp, who after learning that they voice act around 90 and 130 different characters respectively, no praise would suffice. Their multi-talented skills in front of an audience with comedy, voice acting or humorous mannerisms, kept the audience engaged at all times, resulting in a successful first live performance of their innovative audio drama. Although, if more visual prompts were used towards the end of the narrative, the audience would have been enthralled even further.
Conceptually, the narrative was very thought-provoking. To create a story that can attract both children and adults equally, while still having didactic undertones about pertinent social issues is truly commendable. The performance ranged from high lexical vocabulary and concepts that no child would be able to understand. However, this did not matter as their range of different voices from low to high pitched, breathy and matter-of-factly or sing-song and raucous, the younger audience was captivated.
Thematically, the production’s allegorical commentary of current social and political issues was ingenious. From a subtle anti-smoking campaign, to stating that the “concept of a country is an illusion” and that “we should look to the past” for answers, the drama had its subtle agenda. Comedy is the perfect way to openly discuss controversial topics and this production was aware of it. The production humorously undermined bureaucratic and administrative tendencies we all face today. The character Ba’al declares that they should be careful of causing havoc, as the European Environmental Agents “have started to send letters [to him]”, and we all know the severity of this when receiving a letter from a privatised agency.
As a first time experience of witnessing in person the ability to voice act an array of different characters with ease, this event was a great addition to the Brighton Digital Festival. I encourage you to take a visit to their soundcloud and get immersed into a fantasy that intertwines comedy, anachronism and social commentary to produce an innovative, postmodern audio drama.
Featured Image: Tom McNally