Sarcastic Voyage - Radio Plays - Mary Madison: Hot off the Presses... Cold on the Slab

Mary is pulled into a murder mystery involving a wealthy family


  • In early 2018, having just wrapped up Contentment Corner and frustrated that my audio fiction was not reaching a big enough audience, I decided to launch Sarcastic Voyage Theatre. The basic idea was “Thrilling Adventure Hour, except in the SV universe," though I tried very hard to distinguish us from that great venture in a number of ways. The premise was built on a steady troupe of local performers (Mark “Bob” Boszko, Kristy Brannon, Kara O'Connor, Amanda Smith and me) doing sketches and long-form radio plays (like this one) in the style of late 30s radio. And the key to breaking out of that ever-frustrating “how do we reach an audience?” problem was that we would perform this material live as frequently as possible. We did manage one pretty decent live performance in the eight months we produced this show, but I'm not going to sugar coat this: nobody really showed up for it. The thing about doing live performances at a venue like the Pocket Theater in Seattle (which has been our unofficial home for 5 years now and is excellent in so many ways) is that you have to get out there and push people to show up. Which I have always hated, continue to hate and quite probably will always hate. It didn't take long to figure out that more of this venture would, by necessity, involve promotion than actual creation. Between that and the constant difficulty of wrangling a troupe of local performers, I made a command decision and stopped the show at episode 9.
  • Anyway, one of the main reasons this seemed like such a good idea is that two of my favorite recurring SV characters (Dottie and Mary Madison) would fit perfectly into this framework. Amanda and I are extremely proud of Mary and we were excited to write some new adventures for her.
  • Because we were gearing up for what we thought would be a bunch of live performances, this script was written to take advantage of the live sound effects kit we'd been building. Unfortunately, I hadn't quite figured out how to mic these sound effects properly for this first recording and I ended up adding some prerecorded sounds in post. But that was the original goal, and it's why the soundscape is a bit more sparse than what we usually write. (Special shout-out to T-Dro for manning the sound effects that, through no fault of hers, didn't make it into the final edit.)
  • Another reason that we wanted to take things back to 1938 (when most of these stories take place, just because it's a nice round 80 years before they were being produced) is that a lot of the social issues they talked about in movies back then are relevant still (or again). So there's a lot more politics in these stories than there was in some of my previous work. In particular, there's a fair amount of contempt for the rich in this one. Because, you know, fuck the rich. Mary was always a social justice warrior, and we tried to focus more on that with this new story.
  • Amanda and I watched tons of movies from this era as research, and also because we love them. So there's the DNA of a lot of classic comedies (particularly screwballs) in all of these SVT productions. There aren't many specific references in this one, but the overall rhythm is very much cribbed from those sources.
  • Kristy's snobby rich lady was fangoddamntastic. No surprise there.
  • Bob and I had fun playing what was essentially the Goofy Gophers from Looney Tunes.
  • It was also very important for us to continue what we'd started in Contentment Corner, in terms of representation — people in our stories are just as likely to be gay or bi or poly or asexual as anything else and it's just not a big deal. I've always felt like normalizing something is the best way forward.
  • “Farley Drexel” is from Superfudge, apparently. Thanks, subconscious.
  • I think I came up with the swimming pool hedge maze and it's kind of a great idea, if I do say so myself.
  • I do hate mysteries. I think I may have mentioned that in one or every set of annotations I write. That being said, I was pretty happy with the one we cooked up here, mostly because it was so dumb. By design.
  • Kara filled in for the Irish cop in a live performance we did of Bury the Lead one time and it made us all laugh so much that we wanted to use the voice again. Also, all the cops in Mary's world (and in all the other radio plays set in this period) are Irish because that's how the movies rolled back then.
  • We had a lot of fun creating the “Irish rhubarb” in the police precinct scene.
  • Forcing Mary to free a person she knows is innocent — despite her general contempt for said person — was a good way to test her “anything for the truth” M.O.
  • “What gives you the right?” “The First Amendment gives me the right!” is one of those lines that literally came to me in a dream.
  • Of course Mary is a better cop than the actual cops.
  • Nobody in the 30s can go anywhere without their hat. This will come up again.
  • “I don't think anything. I know who I am.” Quintessential Mary. I love this character.
  • I also don't think mannequins (or dolls) are scary, Mary.
  • We borrowed a (very) little bit of the ”warehouse of mannequins” thing from a movie called Mystery at the Wax Museum, which featured (among others) Glenda Farrell of Torchy Blane fame. (Torchy was a big influence on Mary's character.)
  • I really wanted this final sequence, with Farley and John dancing around, to be extremely chaotic like a scene from a Marx Brothers movie. I don't think we quite got there, but at least they're singing “Lydia the Tattooed Lady”!
  • I think the button on this one — Mrs. Rockaflower trying to tip Mary and Mary having none of it — was quite good as well.


Mark “Bob” Boszko - Farley Rockaflower

Kristy Brannon - Daphne Rockaflower

Kara O’Connor - Detective O'Sullivan

Amanda Smith - Mary Madison

Ron “AAlgar” Watt - John Kirby

Written & directed by Amanda Smith & Ron “AAlgar” Watt

© 2018 AAlgar Productions