Monday, September 15, 2014

Neverwhere: BBC Dramatization, by Neil Gaiman (creator), Dirk Maggs (writer)

BBC Radio 4, March 2013

This is the BBC dramatization of Neil Gaiman's wonderful 1996 novel, Neverwhere.

Richard Mayhew is a rising young businessman in London, with a beautiful fiancée, Jessica, who is rising in her own field. In connection with that, Jessica needs Richard to come to dinner with her boss after work, and they're on their way, when they stumble across an injured young woman.

Richard insists on helping the young woman. Jessica is outraged that he'd ditch her dinner with the boss for no real reason. The young woman does not want to go to the hospital, so Richard takes her to his flat, while Jessica goes off to her dinner, declaring that their engagement is over.

The young woman's name is Door, and very strange things start to happen. Talking to birds, getting messages from rats, Door's rapid recovery, being sent off on a very strange errand, the arrival of a strange man. Door and the man leave, apparently, through a broom closet.

And then Richard discovers his life has been completely exploded by this attempt to do the right thing and help an injured stranger.

His voice can't be heard over the phone. He's effectively invisible unless he forces people to notice him--and then even friends and coworkers of many years don't recognize him. He has no job, the property management company believes he's moved out of his flat and has put his belongings in storage; he's a non-person. He decides is best option is to follow the directions Door gave him for fetching help for her, and winds up in London Below, a sort of alternate London made up of the people who have fallen through the cracks, monsters, myths, and magical creatures.

Richard joins Door's quest to find out who killed her family and why, in the hope that he'll also be able to find a way to get his life in London Above back.

Choosing his other viable option, becoming a street person in London Above, might have been simpler and safer.

This six-part adaptation is lively and engaging, with excellent performances by James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, David Harewood, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, and others. There are times when the background noise interferes with the voices, but it is more often atmospheric than distracting. This was a very entertaining three hours of listening.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.