Review: Dangerous Visions 2016: Brave New World (part 1)

Brave New World 2Sunday May 22nd, Radio 4 (Click here to listen)

Aldous Huxley’s 1930 tale adapted for the 21st century…

Jonathan Holloway adapts another classic piece of science fiction to kick off the new season of Dangerous Visions, which returns after a year’s absence with a very strong season of plays and readings. As with his two-part adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Holloway doesn’t hesitate to alter elements of the story to create a radio play that is effective in its own right – so even if you think you know the twists and turns of Huxley’s tale you may be in for some surprises.

The biggest change, which is made clear straightaway, is that we’re no longer in the After Ford era of the original – the book’s 26th century setting has been swapped for one 100 years after our own time, and there are extremely explicit links forged between the way our society is going and the one in which the story is set. These feel perhaps a little forced – particularly as the points are made up front, rather than once we’ve come to know something about the Brave New World – but there’s no disguising the fact that we have indeed travelled some way down the path towards the future he suggested.

Holloway has moulded one of the characters into a narrator, providing rather more connections between the various portions of the story than were originally there. I’ll post a spoiler-filled review of the whole play after the second episode has been broadcast, but this first part does a good job of presenting the world where “everyone belongs to everyone else” (and don’t switch off or over when the credits start – in the best contemporary cinematic tradition, there’s something to wait for), and those who aren’t prepared to ascribe to that creed are looked at a little askance.

Verdict: There’s very much a feel that all the pieces are being put in position during this first part, with the real conflicts set to appear later, but Holloway and producer David Hunter create a sometimes horrifyingly credible vision of a society that has lost its way. 8/10

Paul Simpson

Listen to a clip from episode 1 here

The next Dangerous Vision is the Dark Vignette at 1945 BST on May 22nd.


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