Recommend an audiobook/radio drama with an ensemble voice cast?
April 9, 2016 10:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for immersive audiobooks and drama CD's featuring multiple narrators/actors. Alternatively, fictional podcasts are ok, but really I'd prefer dramatizations of good books.

I've never had the time to read good fiction and I know there's a lot out there. But I figure I could multitask by listening while I work or drive.

I'm open to anything you've found particularly entertaining or compelling. For genres, I think I prefer things with a good amount of action and suspense. So, maybe no drab slice-of-life/romance stuff.
posted by picklenickle to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Big Finish's stuff is really high quality, with excellent casts. Some of it is audio drama based on existing properties, but they also have book dramatizations (e. g. Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles with Derek Jacobi and Hayley Atwell).
posted by wintersweet at 10:54 PM on April 9, 2016

I recently listened to Agatha Christie's classic "And Then There Were None." There are a bunch of actors on this one I believe. Here's an old thread from here via 2011.
I've noticed a lot of the ones with full casts are adaptations of popular plays that might have been on the radio in ye old times.
posted by greatalleycat at 10:56 PM on April 9, 2016

Neverwhere BBC full cast adaptation
posted by KateViolet at 11:37 PM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

I just finished listening to the audiobook for David Mitchell's latest novel, Slade House, and LOVED IT for exactly that reason: multiple narrators playing multiple characters told in the 1st person. It riffs off the classic Victorian ghost story, so there is plenty of suspense.

I digitally checked it out via my library using Overdrive, if that's a service that's available to you.

I also listened to The Big Read's Moby Dick, which has a different narrator for each of its many, many chapters. Some are famous and amazingly done (Tilda Swinton, David Cameron) but most are everyday people volunteering to read, and some are just plain bad. But overall it was the variety of narrators that made this one fly by. It's available as a podcast via the iTunes Store.
posted by inkytea at 11:40 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not a book, but Star Wars: The Original Radio Drama (1981) was superb. It's much longer than the actual movie (13 half-hour episodes) and includes scenes and details not present in the film that were considered canon until Disney's purchase of the franchise. If you like that, NPR did Empire (1983) and Jedi (1996), too. Some roles are reprised by the original actors (Threepio, Luke) while others were re-cast.
posted by xyzzy at 11:42 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also consider downloading the BBC play of the week podcast and the Saturday play podcast.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 12:13 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

The original BBC production of Dylan Thomas’s ‘play for voices’ Under Milk Wood (starring Richard Burton) is a classic, though there’s no action or suspense to speak of.
posted by misteraitch at 1:01 AM on April 10, 2016

The BBC's radio dramatization of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an unmissable classic!
posted by idlethink at 2:07 AM on April 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Check out Full Cast Audio. You might find something that sparks your interest there.
posted by james33 at 3:18 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

ZBS Media has been doing this for years and now has numerous titles, many of them covering several hours.
posted by megatherium at 3:41 AM on April 10, 2016

I got a kick out of a BBC audiobook of John Hurt, David Warner and other British actors acting out Dante's Inferno.
posted by johngoren at 6:44 AM on April 10, 2016

I really enjoyed this full cast reading of Dracula.
posted by maurice at 7:26 AM on April 10, 2016

The abridged audio book adaptation of Max Brooks' World War Z novel was critically praised and won a number of awards. The voice cast features well known actors like Alan Alda, John Turturo and Rob Reiner.
posted by seasparrow at 8:57 AM on April 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

I started reading Euphoria, by Lily King, in book form, and then switched to audio. While I enjoyed reading the book, I loved listening to it. There are only two narrators -- one for the two male characters, and one for the female character, but they are both wonderful.
posted by merejane at 9:16 AM on April 10, 2016

If you like Stephen King and/or horror, the audiobook/audioplay of From a Buick 8 is one of my favorite re-listens. Multiple voice actors, doing voice acting - very cool.

For fictional podcasts, I've been enjoying The Black Tapes and Tanis from Pacific Northwest Stories.
posted by kythuen at 5:45 PM on April 10, 2016

I liked Limetown and Tumanbay, both podcasts.
posted by emkelley at 8:25 PM on April 10, 2016

If you have any interest in young adult or fantasy, Bruce Coville's company Full Cast Audio does just this. I would particularly recommend anything by Tamora Pierce, and Shannon Hale's Bayern series (The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, and River Secrets).
posted by staraling at 4:57 AM on April 11, 2016

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series of books have a full cast. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed listening to them.

I'm seconding the recording of Max Brooks' World War Z novel.

I'll also enthusiastically second the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy recordings, the radio episodes from the late '70s. The radio series was the original idea, the books came later, so the recordings were written specifically to be listened to. The radio storyline diverges from the books so if happen to be a fan it might be considered required listening. I had the full radio series on (get this) cassette tape and it was what I listened to on my long drives between college and my parents house. I must have heard it over a dozen times and it never got old.
posted by Miss Matheson at 4:55 PM on April 11, 2016

The recommendations above for BBC drama are because of the sheer amount of drama they produce/broadcast: two or three (or more) dramas a day of everything from 15 minute multi-part dramas (the 15 Minute Drama) and 45 minute originals, SF and thrillers, to hour long serializations of classics (the Classic Serial) and everything in between. Plus of course radio versions of stage drama, classic and modern. Some of these show up on the drama podcast, all are available on the iPlayer for a month after broadcast, and quite a lot one them are available for purchase either as downloads (which might be location dependent) or on CD — Amazon has quite a number of their productions, just as a single example the 2010 Complete George Smiley Radio Dramas: all eight le Carré Smiley stories starring the wonderful Simon Russell Beale, with a total running time of over 17 hours.

To get an idea of the range what’s available at any given time you can search currently available drama on the iPlayer.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 9:37 PM on April 11, 2016

If you are up for older radio broadcasts, there are plenty of dramatizations freely available on

The War of the Worlds, Sherlock Holmes, and much, much, much more.
posted by hankscorpio83 at 2:10 PM on April 13, 2016

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