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Audio Drama Review

Book Cover



Author: John Wyndham
Starring: Owen Teale, Cathy Tyson, Sacha Dhawan and Kathryn Hunt
BBC Audio
RRP: £12.99
ISBN: 978 1 405 68805 5
Available 07 January 2008

When young Matthew Gore starts talking to himself, and introduces his invisible friend Chocky to the family, his parents decide it's just a phase he is going through. But when Matthew starts explaining binary maths and anti-gravity propulsion, they begin to worry. Is Chocky really just the product of an over-inactive imagination, or something more?...

Based on the 1968 novel by John Wyndham, this full-cast radio drama was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1998 and tells the chilling tale of a normal boy confronted with abnormal circumstances.

Matthew had always been an ordinary boy. Even when he started talking to himself and introduced his invisible friend Chocky to the family, it was obviously just a phase he was going through. And all children have imaginary friends, even if eleven-year-old Matthew is a bit old to have one.

As he becomes increasingly distressed and blames it on arguments with his unseen companion, his parents become concerned. But when Matthew's teachers start to all believe that he is naturally gifted at all subjects, concerns turn to worry. After all, Chocky is only the product of an overactive imagination. Isn't he?

After Matthew saves his sister from drowning, word soon gets out to the local press that Matthew couldn't swim and that he was helped by a guardian angel. As this story starts to spread, certain organisations start to take an interest in Matthew. As they close in on him it soon becomes apparent that his fellow man are more likely to cause him harm than his new inquisitive friend.

One of the interesting aspects of this story is the way in which the listener is never really sure whether Chocky is a force for good or evil until the closing act. Another interesting aspect is that the producers also updated the tale for a modern audience (by introducing mobile phones and home computers) but not to the point where it is thrusting technology in the listeners' faces in a bid to showcase that they've modernised the story.

While all of the actors are impressive in this play, Kathryn Hunt (who played Angela Harris in Coronation Street, and Pauline Webb in Drop Dead Gorgeous) is well cast as the voice of Chocky. While her voice has obviously been treated a little to give it that other-worldly sound, she manages to convey strong emotions through an almost emotionless tone.

Another entertaining release from the BBC's Classic Radio Sci-Fi series of audio productions.


Nick Smithson

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