Thursday, January 3, 2013

Les Miserables (Radio Theatre)

You've read the book, you've seen the musical,  you've seen the movie, now you've seen the movie musical.  If that's not enough for you, pick up Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre adaptation of Victor Hugo's beloved classic, Les Miserables.  True to their radio roots, Focus on the Family does radio theater well.  This is by no means an audio book.  It's a true dramatization, with a large cast of actors and actresses, who tell the story through dialogue and sound effects.

Enjoying this program, which is about 3 hours long, is all about expectations.  If you want the full story of Les Miserables, with all of its interconnected plots and subplots, along with Hugo's rich character studies and descriptive passages, you will be sorely disappointed.  But let's be realistic.  My Everyman's Library edition runs well over 1000 pages.  There's no way a 3 hour movie, a 3 hour musical, or a 3 hour radio theatre adaptation will capture all of that.

But if you listen to this production with the expectation of a well-acted, enjoyable program which captures the kernel of Hugo's story, you'll be delighted.  The actors are terrific (Although I always wonder, when the original is in French or German or some other language, why British accents are normally used.  Is it simply anglophilia?) and the sound effects give eyes to your ears.  And, in spite of the story compression of this epic novel, the story hangs together well.

My biggest complaint is the dynamic range.  In a quiet theater or at home in the living room, when a barely audible whisper one moment is followed by a noisy explosion and shouting the next, no problem.  But listening to this in the car during a road trip, I had to keep turning it way up to hear over the road noise, then crank it back down when it got loud.  Maybe this is a personal problem. . . .

This Radio Theatre production is not a replacement for the book, but it is a worthy introduction to a great work of literature.  I'll never get my 11 year old to read the book (I shouldn't say never.  It would be a long shot, though.), but this production can at least get kids, and adults, for that matter, into the story.  Enjoy!

Thanks to the Tyndale Blog Network for the complimentary copy!

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