Even the most perfunctory audio theater fan is likely to know of and love the productions of Crazy Dog Audio Theatre, Roger Gregg’s absurd radio dramatic exploits broadcast throughout the Green Isle with CDs blessedly made available by ZBS and Lodestone. Gregg’s work oscillates from the high, medium and low brow with philosocomic stories ranging from the reality-bending Bill Lizard to the disconcertingly relevant Infidel, a story of two brother knights caught up in the Fifth Crusade. The Last Harbinger, the latest Crazy Dog production to grace my ears, cleverly blends both styles of production in one outstanding production that you just need to hear.
The planet Moloch is a very, very distant world unique from ours in all ways, where the poor are exterminated at whim by the police while the privileged guss about their beautiful (and sometimes synthetic) nodules. Everyone is cheery, happy, and fat, at least, those with God on their side. And who cares about the others anyways?
We are drawn into this world via an enchanting, fairy-tale style narrator but very quickly realize that this is no fairy tale. The story opens upon a great celebration of Moloch’s…. greatness… covered by a giddy, patriotic press who laud the people who start beating a snap-addicted bum for no apparent reason. This celebration is interrupted by the appearance of a mysterious harbinger from another world, who brings a terrible warning and a message of hope to this doomed world… The bringing of which ensures his immediate persecution by the state.
Harbinger spans 5 action packed episodes (26 mins apiece) with gripping pacing, impressive performances, and a rich soundscape of natural sounds, effects and music. The acting is excellent across the board, with a cast of Dublin’s finest, Crazy Dog regulars, and a couple of internationals (including Firesign’s Phil Proctor).
There are plenty of great moments in the production, but favorites of mine are this runaway blues song performed by the snap-addicted bum, and a Dostoevsky-ian confrontation of the Harbinger and the forces of the state near the end. While the story is at its core very dark, humor makes the ride terrifically enjoyable and the story concludes on a powerful poetic note.
Harbinger is truly a production showing off the height of audio drama, and the range and breadth of Gregg’s skills as a producer, writer and actor. Heavily recommended.