The Behemoth | Fiction Podcast of the Week
The Behemoth emerges from the Atlantic ocean and makes its way across the United States. What does this mean for the existing sentient inhabitants? They're really not sure, seeing as all the strange creature seems to do is walk. A lumbering paradox the size of a house.
This story is as much about human reaction to the unknown as it is about the unknown itself. It puts me fondly in mind of the 1951 sci-fi classic, The Day The Earth Stood Still. I remember thinking myself, `Why is the alien spaceship here? Who's this human-like alien and what's his motivation for coming to Earth?`
In the case of The Behemoth, our narrator decides watching it on TV isn't enough. Fifteen year old Madyson decides to join `Max` (her name for the Behemoth, and why not?) through the trees and fields.
This is a fascinating series from Rick Coste Productions. Madyson's imperfect home life becomes clear throughout the early episodes, made all the more pitiable by the way she seems resigned to it.
It's not immediately clear, even to Madyson, why she decides to risk life and limb to join him on his journey. Does she identify with the creature's solitary existence? Does she see it as a metaphor for her own life's lack of apparent meaning and purpose? But Madyson soon realises that her presence may be the only thing stopping the Army from attacking it.
Conversely, she's the only human who can get close to Max. `Rescue` attempts are made ostensibly to get Madyson to safety – giving them a clear shot at the beast – but Max bats them away with one sweep of his massive hand. Despite his size and obvious indifference to most humans, he does his best not to hurt anyone, and in that moment we see a symbiotic relationship has formed. He keeps Madyson from being hauled away against her will, and her continued presence means the watching soldiers can't pull the trigger.
At the time of publication, eight out of twenty episodes have been released, and I'm looking forward to number nine. They're only about five minutes long, so it doesn't let you get too lost in the narrative – something I find common in audio drama.
The production itself is simplistic, yet solid. The ambient music and sound effects do their job perfectly; you're almost unaware they even exist, but they paint the world effortlessly.
I admit to being a time-served advocate of non-narration in audio drama, but it turns out that “Show, not tell!” is just another rule for Max The Behemoth to ignore as he trudges his way across the airwaves.
Fully narrated by Liz Liu who plays Madyson, she really captures the feel of the piece with an almost-nihilistic delivery. You may suddenly remember what it was like to be a teen with no clue as to your place in the universe. I'm sure many of us were asked what we wanted to do with our lives with no obvious answer to give.
Madyson is all of us, and The Behemoth is the promise of the illusive answer to that question, and that's what keeps us listening.
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