The Cambridge Geek

Alexei Sayle’s The Absence of Normal

Given how much I enjoyed Sayle's recent Imaginary Sandwich Bar, was a bit of a given I'd listen to this. It's radio play versions of short stories written by Sayle, covering a range of topics, but all around a political core.

The first, "The Only Man Stalin Was Afraid Of", pits Peter Capaldi as Stalin against Peter Serafinowicz as the only psychiatrist he's kept alive. Stalin is unfortunately terrified of a particular baker he'd encountered on one of his morale-boosting (honest!) tours, and wants to be cured. Might be problematic if after the cure, he's back to his rather murdery self. It's got these two, and you know they're both excellent.

Second is "Banner Bright", which...well it's about a banner. And the fun that arises when you get a collection of bright, young, slightly horny things in the exciting environment of political activism. Sneaks slightly into magical realism as well, though I will admit the main draw of this is Tim Key. He is brill in almost everything. Not sure if it's merely the Key effect, but very reminiscent of Party, which is no bad thing.

All (there's more, though I've not bent an ear to them yet) narrated by Sayle (who really does have a good voice for this sort of thing), which ties them together thematically, even if ostensibly they stand alone. They've all got the same grim humour, delving into the nastier sides of human nature, and what we might do rein them in, while offering the suggestion that even noble ambitions are tainted by selfish desires.

You know, funny.

It never lets the political leanings overpower the stories though, which end up being solid short pieces with a hint of whimsy. Will be listening to the rest.

Score 4

Tagged: Radio Drama Cast Fiction News/Political