The Buyer in the Library

An adaptation of an award winning one-act play, written by Karl Sparks of Pocket Radio Theater. The mind behind 10 cent stories and the Bootleggers series is lacking in good sound effects, but makes up for it with a single character who is charmingly twisted and evil and who ultimately steals the show.

The story is set in Rochester, NY, specifically in the basement level of a University. The only way to get there is via an elevator with a button that appears to select number of people. The first three minutes or so explain the workings of the elevator and for the purposes of the story doesn’t matter a whole lot. In fact the narration which explains it, could’ve been cut and no one would be confused.

This entire play is a series of events, tied together with a delightful performance by Leah Mould who plays a character along the lines of genie. It relies a little heavily on the genie story arc, where each wish you make comes back to bite you. It doesn’t follow it specifically and there’s enough there with the performances and the nuances of how “The Buyer” goes about fulfilling wishes to make it somewhat entertaining.

Unlike the first episode of The Bootleggers, the sound effects here are a bit much and don’t create a consistent soundscape this time around. Every time the elevator arrived was like nails on a chalk board. It might’ve been intentional, but I could’ve done without it lasting as long as it did each time it came.

All in all this a fun tale which relies heavily on the performances and the tropes of the “magic comes at a price” trope. If you’re looking for a subversion of tropes, then look elsewhere. The story follows the convention closely, but it’s still enjoyable.

4/5 stars

The Bootleggers: Episode One

Produced by Pocket Radio Theater and set in my hometown of Rochester, NY–this period piece about life in the upstate New York city during prohibition mixes the old time radio aspect of the time with modern audio drama sensibilities. Complete with music which reflects the period is only icing on the cake.

The writing is good and the sound effects even better. The immersion factor is seemless and you’re never thrown out of the story even for a little bit. A problem a lot of newer shows have with their production values.

The plot of this episode deals with two bootleggers who run into trouble with the feds. After a scene which explains a change in management for the two men, the bootleggers go about their daily lives, complete with name-dropping actual places inside Rochester, NY. As a native of the city, it made me smile. After the stage is set and we get to know the main characters a bit more, the episode ends.

There’s not much to say about this other than there are new episodes released on the 15th of each month and it’s a serial. The first episode is not self-contained, but there many things about it which hook you. I started listening to the next episode immediately after. If you’re a fan of the 20s and 30s, this audio drama is for you.

You can listen to the first eight or nine episodes on iTunes or by visiting their site at PocketRadioTheater.org.

4.5/5 Stars