“Between the writing and the performances, Unwell’s tackling of the micro- and macrocosms of generational distress is, so far, flawless—it is agonizing, cringe-worthy, and at times, hilarious in its weirdness. Rivers and Harman enact a contentious, sometimes emotionally abusive, sometimes awkwardly loving, relationship with a long history, parallel to the house that is falling apart around them. Mt. Absalom is practically a character in and of itself, composed of voices who hide secrets and the truth even while some, like boarding house resident Abby Douglas, attempt to root it out, a common Gothic theme. With celery festivals, battles over rotting casserole, and overly-familiar locals, there’s enough odd humor to balance out the terror of the unknown, which Unwell has already laid the groundwork for in its subdued, eerie sound design….
Unwell is leading the way to a new understanding of fiction and horror in 2019’s audio landscape, with the same caliber of execution that HartLife NFP has long been known for.
-Elena Fernández-Collins, “HartLife NFP’s “Unwell” is Both a Quiet Example and Direct Subversion of Midwestern Gothic”
The dialogue editing in each episode is especially impressive, allowing such a natural back-and-forth that’s specific to each set of characters. You can tell how each person in the story regards each other not just by what they say or how they say it, but when they say it. This pacing is something often overlooked in audio fiction, but it’s harnessed so well here…
In its first three episodes, Unwell is already one of my audio fictions to watch in 2019. Its wise ear for stillness, its naturalistic dialogue and production, its compelling protagonist, and its knack for humor all cultivate in one of the most fascinating, exciting premiers of the year so far.
If all that isn’t enough, there’s an unexpected hidden joy to checking out the show: it has, by far, the most engaged and thoughtful crew I’ve ever had the pleasure of observing. From regularly answering fan questions both silly and serious, to responding thoughtfully and openly to critique (that caveat up there about queer romance might be solved before the show’s eighth and final season, and I’ll take the confirmation of the body-swapping Herbert as genderfluid to my very happy grave), to writing content warnings for their shows once they realized there was a desire for them, the folks behind Our Fair City are the benchmark for how to engage with an audience.
-Vrai Kaiser, The Mary Sue, “Our Fair City: A Refreshing, Witty Take on Dystopia”
“Does any of this sound familiar? Series co-creator and director Jeffrey Gardner maneuvers his characters like chessmen through sound engineer Ryan Schile’s eerie echoing soundscapes spiked with dramatic stabs…in the end, this futuristic but decadent corporate fascist society resembles a mere perverted extension of our own, suggesting that we urgently should check our present heading for needed corrections. Enjoy intriguing speculative sci-fi…”
-Captain Radio, “Radio Drama Revival: Episode 257“
"But the true standouts of the cast were Foley artists Jeffrey Gardner and Ele Matelan. Foley is a technique generally used in film post-production today, but it was originally developed for radio dramas, in which sound effects are added after shooting to enhance the scene. Gardner and Matelan practiced Foley in real-time, mimicking footsteps, explosions, walkie-talkies and more, to alternately creepy and hilarious effects. Their contributions alone are worth the price of admission."
-Miami Huricane, "Deathscribe: Miami’ spooks audiences with audio-based twist"
“Clayton Faits’ script crackles and pops with hard-boiled dialogue….It’s a fast-paced and often-funny slice of pastiche that, while part of the ongoing serial, still works just fine as a stand-alone story. Jeffrey Gardner’s direction brings out just enough self-aware wink-and-a-nod moments to let us in on the jokes without belaboring them.
-Chicago Tribune, “Our Fair City: The Live Episode”
“…as I listened to two further episodes, I became aware of another aspect of the serial that sets it apart from its rivals — the quality of its writing. To produce a series week in week out, and keep the plot going is no mean feat; but to take as much delight in language as the writers of this series obviously do is something quite unique. Words are provided as much for their sound as their sense: the actors have great fun pronouncing polysyllabic nouns, taking cared to enunciate each syllable as if it were a tasty linguistic morsel. Credit must be paid to the entire cast…The fact that they can produce a series so uniformly well written is testament to their abilities. Long may it continue!
-Radio Drama Reviews, “Return to Our Fair City”