First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 between 29th April 2009 - 3 June 2009, the first series of the comedy fantasy radio sitcom entitled Elvenquest was broadcast in six thirty-minute episodes. Early on in 2010, this first series was released as a three CD audiobook by BBC Audio. The series included a cast of well known, well respected and undeniably talented comedians such as the likes of Stephen Mangan, Alistair McGowan and Sophie Winkleman.
Set in the mythical dimension of Lower Earth, the tale follows a trio of noble warriors - Vidar the Elf Lord, Penthiselea the Warrior Princess and Dean the Dwarf, along with a writer from our Earth named Sam and his dog named Amis (who turns out to be 'The Chosen One'). However, when they travel through a portal to Lower Earth, Amis takes on a human form, but remains with many of his original canine characteristics.
Together the fearless band plan to save Lower Earth from the evil rule of Lord Darkness by searching for the Sword of Asnagar which holds the power to take back control of the land. However, the Sword of Asnagar can only be wielded by 'The Chosen One'. They are not alone in seeking out this all-powerful sword. Great dangers await the band as they journey across the land of Lower Earth. And so begins the quest...
Written as an obvious comical take on JRR Tolkien's epic saga 'The Lord Of The Rings', Elvenquest delivers a veritable tsunami of fantasy clichés, bursting at the seams throughout with a purposefully comical downsizing of an otherwise epic saga.
Although the production is principally that of a comedy show, the storyline quickly takes precedence over the actual comedy input; with more time spent on orchestrating an intricately elaborate fantasy story than on cramming in the jokes. This however, is no great loss, as the sheer over-the-top and tongue-firmly-in-cheek take on the storyline creates an overall air of mischievous comedy that suits the production and cast well.
The strength of the show is in the storytelling rather than the sometimes time-worn and predictable jokes that seem to slip into the script from time to time. This doesn't mean that there aren't some absolute comedy treasures dotted around the picturesque landscape. Indeed, moments of comical genius regularly spring up, constantly refreshing the smirk that lies firmly across the listeners face.
You don't need to be a fan of fantasy or have any particular knowledge of past work in the field to appreciate and thoroughly enjoy this harmless and witty play on the entire genre. The performance from the cast alone carries the storyline along, with some truly ingenious characterizations played out by these well revered comedians.
Elvenquest isn't a laugh a minute production, or indeed anything anywhere near that. However, it is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining broadcast that keeps the reader chuckling along throughout.