Audio Review - Outside Looking In

Outside Looking in

Susan Omand gets shut out again and listens to Outside Looking In by Neil Gardner and Spokenworld...

She’s on the outside, looking in as the title of Neil Gardner’s story says. We don’t know how she got there, or why, or even who she is although we do know that she has been there a long time and we do know that “there” is a suburban shopping street. The thing is that, although she can see and hear everything around her, nobody can see or hear her. She is trapped in some kind of other plane of existence, cut off from everyone and everything, destined forever to be an observer.

Neil Gardner’s thought provoking stories like this one are always simple on the surface but all have an underlying nod to deeper, almost philosophical questions. The fact that we never know the name of the speaker or any more than a very general description of the area means that this could be anyone and anywhere, making it easy to empathise with the loneliness and frustration. I enjoyed Anneke Wills' performance and her enjoyment of the sound of the words while reading the story is evident too, particularly in the phrase “The chap in the hat with the dog and the bag.” The music and sound production also adds an extra layer to the atmosphere built up by the story. That first dissonant chord puts you on edge and the undercurrent of noise beneath the whole story serves to highlight the other-worldliness of wherever she is trapped. The echoing voice treatment of the outward Hellos and pleas to be heard differentiates them clearly from the inner thoughts and helps in building the barrier necessary between her and the rest of the world.

All in all an atmospheric and slightly unnerving story that embodies the phrase “Lonely in a crowd”. 

Image - Spokenworld.


Outside Looking In is available FREE from Spokenworld here.