Don’t Worry: It’s Only the End of the World (2015) is a sci-fi comedy radio drama from Mildly Rebellious Productions. You can listen to it on iTunes and Mildly Rebellious Productions’ website.
One day, Owen (Joe McCarthy)awakes from his train-brain coma to discover that a virus has run amok (and by run amok, I mean strategically applied for loans and calculated the takeover) and done a half-ass job at killing off the world’s population, leaving some people decaying but still alive (like Owen’s girlfriend Summer), and schmucks like Owen garnering sympathy from the virus, rendering Owen healthy but just as useless as usual. Thus begins a Hitchhiker’s Guideesque quest through the apocalyptic city, filled with biker gangs (okay, cyclists) and thugs, but there’s still a queue at the post office.
Stylistically, the writing does not deviate from the Douglas Adams structure and wit it clearly seeks to emulate, but the fourth-wall-breaking narrator, who sometimes even affects the characters by transporting them around, brings a freshness to the program’s voice, literally and metaphorically. While some of the delivery of the well-crafted lines miss the beat and stamp out the joke, there are some real gems in here. The idea, for example, that Latin is addictive, with the added pun of Badger “doing some lines,” is beautifully unexpected. There’s also a very Adamsy theory about why everything happens eventually but out of sync (involving a hangover).
Bureaucracy is heavily themed throughout. The talent here comes in making the mundane exciting, from queue jumpers at the post office hanging dead on the ceiling to dealing with an automated voice messaging system not unlike Lister trying to buy a Stir Master in Red Dwarf X or Arthur Dent trying to order tea from the Heart of Gold kitchen unit. The real kicker is the wrecking crew sent in to make the apocalyzed world look more like what people expected the apocalypse to look like to make them happier. Shows like this run a real risk of being gag heavy with no real comment on society, but so far, this has proven successful at laughing at ourselves.
The acting is a mixed bag, but the standout performers are certainly Alfie Shaw as the narrator, Tom Reese-Williams as sort of a Chris Addisony Andrew, and Fraser Geesin as a sort of Hugh Dennisy Apathy, the fifth horseman of the apocalypse. Yes, there are horsemen! This show is the like Terry Pratchett’s The Thief of Time drawn on a Survivors gameboard with a Douglas Adams cheek. If what you’re lacking in life is the ridiculousness of the mundane laminated on a terrifying science fiction setting, you must check out Don’t Worry: It’s Only the End of the World.
Jaime Pond is the editor of Anglonerd. She lives and works in NYC. Follow her on Twitter.
Originally published Sept. 21, 2015