The Owl Service

90 min BBC Radio drama from 2008, it’s a sort of supernatural drama involving Welsh characters in modern times (more or less) but with its roots in old mythology. It’s a hard story to describe because, honestly, it’s hard to really get a grip on it, some of that relating to the material (it’s supernatural, with strange things occurring and people acting oddly — but I don’t think it’s really meant to be “spooky” or “scary” per se, more a soap opera/character drama with a subtext about class) but also to how it’s told, being kind of confusing (there’s a number of characters interacting but it took a long time to really figure out their relationships to each other, and even the age of the characters is unclear at first). The time span between scenes can be vague, and characters act odd and erratically, sometimes because of the supernatural stuff (maybe) and sometimes just because the writing seems inconsistent.

I had assumed the protagonists were adults but then, as the story progresses and they seem answerable to their parents and talk about school, I realized they were presumably teenagers (in radio you can’t see actors, so you’re just going by voices and clues in the dialogue).

Apparently it’s based on a 1967 young adult novel by Alan Barnes (knowing that, it makes the age of the characters more clear, and maybe explains the mildness to the supernatural stuff) which itself had been turned in to a TV mini-series decades ago. And maybe in a long form presentation, where you have time to get to know and like the characters, it works better. But here it was just something where, as I say, initially I was having trouble deciding what type of “genre” it wanted to be, and who the characters were…and then, once I had a better sense of all that, I realized I just didn’t care!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *