The Cambridge Geek

Blueberries Hill

If you're lucky, you might have seen my earlier review of Midst, or found it directly, but just in case you haven't, Midst is a science fiction story told by three improvisers over a fair few episodes, with quite a clever bit of editing, to make a polished and cohesive whole. Compare things like Capital.

The team behind that have now turned their attention to stories for children, specifically those about anthropomorphic animals.

Think Arthur, Winne the Pooh or Redwall. Actually, don't think Redwall. That got quite grim at times, and this show is specifically a satire of the overly twee childrens work, where everything is pretty much lovely, and the animals have to overcome a tiny problem, like getting stuck in a rabbit hole.

In Blueberries Hill, it's a little different, in that the problems faced are rigged elections, grand larceny, and something reminiscent of a monorail. It never gets properly miserable, but this is the funny animal world as viewed through the lens of Who Framed Roger Rabbit or Cool World.

The story, as in Midst, is told by the three narrators, who drop and pick up the plot between them, putting on the occasional silly voice (I particularly enjoy sad mushroom), and building a story as they go. Midst felt very polished, but here they're more loose. You'll catch the occasional corpse as someone realises quite what they've just said, and there's also a few instances of the improv prompts sneaking in, such as one character declaring "let's go and talk to those three interesting and unique people".

You can feel plots being assembled. That might annoy some, but if you're into any sort of actual play (or indeed just improv) fan, it's not going to put you off. In fact, in small doses, it's enjoyable to be there laughing along with the performers as they discover how silly they're being.

Perhaps my favourite bit of this though is the choice of music. It's all based around common themes that originated mid-last century, which you might never have known the names of, but will be instantly recognisable. They're perfectly evocative of gentle pastoral scenes, sudden action, or other emotional states, and will always get you in the right mood. I'm sure one advantage of public domain music is its free nature, but that familiarity is a strong second factor. Because it hit you as a kid, it's a bit more powerful than the many repeats of Kevin Macleod's work you might hear nowadays (although it will be interesting to see whether that forms a new canon).

All in all though, excellent fun.

Score 5

Tagged: Audio fiction Comedy Cast Dramatised Improv Serial