Theo Trouver's P38 by David Lorell Hoskins

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Blind Fly Theater, December 2011
Blind Fly Theater is a small-scale operation producing podcasts. The creator, producer, writer and general factotum of the whole operation is David Lorell Hoskins, who admits that his original inspiration was the CBS Mystery Theatre, broadcast nightly at eleven o'clock in the evening - a programme he would listen to under the bed. Hoskins was inspired to create dramas of his own using a reel-to-reel tape recorder. In adulthood Hoskins listened to radio shows coming out of KFI in Los Angeles, in which the presenter Phil Hendrie would stage fake talk shows, and encourage listeners to phone in their comments. Some of them were in on the joke; but others thought it was for real. Hoskins spent much of his life working for an insurance company, but has recently branched out into independent radio production. Blind Fly Theater is the outcome of his efforts.
Listening to the eighth episode, Theo Trouver's P38, I had to admire Hoskins' herculean efforts; he not only wrote and directed the entire episode, but narrated it as well. Told in Chandleresque form, with the eponymous central character not only telling us what happened but describing his feelings as well, the story is almost impossibly complicated, with the eponymous hero encountering (and overcoming) a series of obstacles - both physical and mental - until he discovers the truth about the P38 gun. Hoskins narrates in deadpan style - so convincingly, in fact, that we never know whether he is being serious or creating a spoof drama. The lessons of Phil Hendrie's radio programme were obviously well learned.
More importantly, Theo Trouver's P38 reminds us that the detective story is not just about the hero (or heroine) solving a case. As in Chandler's novels, Hoskins' central character is subjected to a series of tests; sometimes he experiences mental turmoil, but in true Herculean fashion he relies on his strength - both physical and emotional - to see him through.
The sheer range of sounds in Hoskins' drama is breathtaking; the crunch of feet on gravel, the cheep of birds in the sky, the trill of a musical box, the unearthly hum when something bad is about to happen; all of these are interspersed with snatches of music in a variety of styles drawn from a variety of sources.
Hoskins has obviously devoted much time and energy to producing satisfying aural entertainment. Would that those who are professionally employed in radio drama could demonstrate the same degree of enthusiasm. I loved Theo Trouver's P38: bring on the next episode!