Yesterday, ‘The Grand Opening’, the first episode of Supermarket Matters was finally released on the official website of In Ear Entertainment. After several months of waiting, ten glorious minutes of audio drama landed in my iTunes and after such a long wait the excitement was as big as the expectations were high.
Where did all that excitement come from? In March, I emailed Mark Chatterley, the creator of Supermarket Matters, with a bunch of questions about his show that I’d read about on Twitter. I hadn’t – and sadly still haven’t – ever met Mark in person, and the reason for getting in touch with him was an assignment I had to write for one of my university modules. For one, the simple fact that I received a very detailed account of his journey to creating this show took me slightly aback. I was a stranger, after all, and I couldn’t offer anything in return for his help but the promise of a review when the show would eventually be released. More than that however I was intrigued by the obvious passion with which he talked about his project. This had two consequences: incredible gratefulness for helping me out with the assignment, and increasing impatience to listen to the show.
Everyone who knows me knows that I love audio dramas. I devour radio plays on Radio 4 and iPlayer like there’s no tomorrow, I have had an Audible subscription for many years and I have hundreds of audio drama podcast episodes in my iTunes. Supermarket Matters is a welcome addition to this collection, and judging from the first episode it could become one of my favourites, too. The show is set in a supermarket called Grab’n'Go, and tells of the (mis)adventures of staff and customers. On one hand, the supermarket is still slightly unprepared despite the ribbon cutting underway – customers are told not to pass out, since there’s not been any first aid training yet. On the other hand, staff are also overprepared: there is a fixed rule on how long you are allowed to use the toilet for (three minutes) and everyone is asked to stop time at home to acquire the “skill of the fast pee”. There is – and this made me very happy – also a Welsh joke in there. Can you pronounce Llewelyn? The show is funny. I wasn’t crying with laughter all the way through, but the little observations that are made about the daily life in a big supermarket are quite hilarious and give this sitcom the potential to become a little gem.
Written by Mark Chatterley himself, this first glimpse into his brainchild definitely makes the long wait worthwhile. A great surprise is the overall quality of the production: from the care and attention that went into the sound-mixing to the jingle and the soundtrack and the wonderful voice-actors, this is a production that can easily take on high-budget radio plays. In fact, if the quality stays this high throughout all of the episodes, then it may just have to share the top spot of my all-time favourite audio dramas with Ben Moor’s Undone.
It could have been a bit longer, maybe. But although I have never created an audio drama myself, I did work on a short-film a few years and I know how many hours of work go into one minute of the final creation, and in that light I really admire all the spare time, effort and passion that the people involved have invested into this show.
Now what are you still doing here? Quick, go and grab (ha, see what I did there?*) the first episode here.
* And this sort of lame jokes is why I’ll never write comedy.