These days we face little more than bleak threats of lockdown in the outside world and angry social media with information overload online. But it was not always so. There were golden times not so long
ago. Simpler times decades ago where tales were exciting, heroes were not dark and gritty and the baddies were dastardly rather than shades of grey ciphers of ourselves that require deep introspection. Supermind is a gateway back into this more innocent age: 10-15 minute episodes providing dives into 1930s style escapades of adventure and intrigue, mirroring the formats of the time.
The story in between these bookends is a simple premise where we follow the adventures of the title character Supermind (played by a captivating Colin McFarlane). A genuine mentalist he wants nothing more than to impress his audience with his remarkable powers of mind reading and control. But after being sucked into events outside his control he quickly finds himself battling the nefarious schemes of Nazi’s, intent on conquering an unsuspecting America! McFarlane walks a delicate balancing act of having to appear all-knowing without coming across as too aloof and detached. He brings a commanding presence to proceedings and holds the story together. Be that when thrilling a crowd as Supermind, during the many action sequences or in the constant banter that’s peppered throughout each episode.
The tale might not be a complex non-linear epic that melts your mind as you listen but that’s not a bad thing. Instead, it’s a series of short bursts of fun, adventure, and rip-roaring humour. The shorter format fits well with a commute or slots nicely into a short break in the working day if stuck in a home office but the tale still manages to be compelling with a lot crammed into its two and a half hours run time. Each episode is bookended with a radio announcer recapping past events at the start and providing a send-off at the end of each episode; which should be listened to closely as they smuggle a lot of subtle jokes in for the more observant listener.
Colin McFarlane is supported by a strong cast of talented, and sometimes surprising, co-stars. Barnaby Eaton-Jones provides the comedy foil for Supermind with an endearing and lovable performance as the slightly hapless Frampton. The unexpected Toyah Willcox appears as Lady Witcombe, Supermind’s manager, and brings a delightful mix of grace, guile, and shameless opportunism to the character. While I’ve enjoyed seeing her music prowess live before this is the first time I’ve heard her in an audio play and it is an impressive performance. Providing the foil to this team of heroes is Julie-Ann Dean as Professor Vaytell, an evil genius with suitably sneaky schemes and secrets. She may be guilty of chewing some scenery but that only adds to the fun.
With so many audio dramas these days it’s good to see that Supermind holds its own in terms of music and sound production. It nicely echo’s the feel of an old style radio show. The script, by Nic Ford and Barnaby Eaton-Jones, packs in a lot of humour with the action – often multi layered gags that reward the careful listener. This, combined with sharp direction from Barnaby Eaton-Jones, ensures the fast moving, funny story is impressively immersive. The short segments have enough to entertain individually while building together into an amusing tale.
While I’ve listened to a lot of audio stories over the years this is an unusual format with delightful and quick humour that stands out from the crowd. I eagerly look forward to further Adventures from Supermind, Frampton and Lady Witcombe and highly recommend Supermind to anyone looking for a fun escape for a few hours.
COLIN McFARLANE as Art Hardwicke
TOYAH WILLCOX as Lady Witcombe
BARNABY EATON-JONES as Frampton
JULIE-ANN DEAN as Professor Vaytell
All other voices – DARRELL MACLAINE, JULIE-ANN DEAN and BARNABY EATON-JONES
Script – NIC FORD and BARNABY EATON-JONES
Sound design – JOSEPH FOX
Music – DARRELL MACLAINE
Artwork – ROBERT HAMMOND
Executive Producer – PAUL ANDREWS
Produced and directed – BARNABY EATON-JONES for AUK Studios © 2021