Review of Wayfarer from Sargent Family Productions

Oliver Twist meets Spiderman . It seems like an unlikely combo – but the flavors jive. Add audio drama to the mix, and the cocktail is elec...

Oliver Twist meets Spiderman. It seems like an unlikely combo – but the flavors jive. Add audio drama to the mix, and the cocktail is electric.

K.M. Weiland’s 2018 novel, Wayfarer, is a superhero origin story set in the streets of 1820’s London. Here’s the elevator pitch:

“Think being a superhero is hard? Try being the first one.

Will’s life is a proper muddle—and all because he was “accidentally” inflicted with the ability to run faster and leap higher than any human ever. One minute he’s a blacksmith’s apprentice trying to save his master from debtor’s prison. The next he’s accused of murder and hunted as a black-hearted highwayman.

A vengeful politician with dark secrets and powers even more magical than Will’s has duped all of London into blaming Will for the chilling imprisonments of the city’s poor. The harder Will tries to use his abilities to fight crime, the deeper he is entangled in a dark underworld belonging to some of Georgian England’s most colorful characters.

Only Will stands a chance of stopping this powerful madman bent on “reforming” London by any means necessary. Unfortunately, Will is beginning to realize becoming a legend might mean sacrificing everything that matters.”

Par for the course with K.M. Weiland, Wayfarer is a “good time at the movies.” And in 2021, it got an audio drama supercharge from Sargent Family Productions.

This was the second production of father/son duo Kenny Sargent (producer) and Thomas Sargent (director). And at 15 hours 25 minutes, it was a massive project for the sophomore production house.

Given the scope of this audio book/drama hybrid, the quality of the acting, score, sound design, narration and the way all these pieces come together is fantastic. 

Every actor brings a lot. Thomas Sargent plays a great naive and honest hero, Will Hardy. Hannah Vail does a wonderful job as Rose, managing to sound like a cockney 9-year-old without being annoying (something that is very difficult to get right). Andrew Sturt is hilarious as Lifty Lefty. Eleanor Sturt is fantastic as Isabella. Jacques Reulet II is great as Tom Colville and convincing as Mr Monarch (at least to my non-French ears). Above all, Nato Jacobson carries the story with a commanding voice and narration that perfectly walks the tightrope between drama and melodrama.

Director/Composer, Thomas Sargent with wife, Amy
Thomas Sargent’s original, cinematic score and crisp sound design quietly and effectively underscore the narration and performances. And for a project so massive, I can only imagine the time and effort that went into all the little things at work under the surface. Thomas had this to say about working on the score, "Since the story is a Gaslamp fantasy, I blended orchestral sets with synth/drone instrumentation. The audiobook is a hybrid - why not make the music a hybrid as well? I’ll try not to spoil anything, but since the villain of the story has powers that rival Will Hardy’s, I reversed some of the instruments, especially when they’re dueling together. You can hear this in the theme that plays during some of the battles between hero and villain." He adds, "In Chapter 30, all the instruments in the main theme with the exception of the percussion are played backward, or rather, reversed. Even the strings and french horns."

Few audio projects of this scale are without flaws, and this one has its share of rough edges. A bit of undercooked sound design here. A misstep in a performance there. But it's remarkable how few flaws there are, and those that exist don’t really distract from the story. 

Both Kenny and Thomas acknowledge that the production is not perfect and realize that the process was a learning experience. Thomas says, "In many ways, the whole project was an experiment. And thus, working with many different microphones was quite hard. Second to accents, that was the biggest challenge of the production. When the actors received defective models or already had equipment that wasn’t up to par, it was a nightmare...trying to match their mics with the clear sound from the higher end gear. Directors can often blame actors, marketing, etc., but in this case, it was on me and the process I used. So if you hardcore audio purists occasionally say, 'that line sounds different,' then yes, that’s my fault. ๐Ÿ˜Š While I’m pleased with the project on the whole, yeah, that was tough. Lesson learned!"

But the ultimate test of an audio production is this: does it make the story more immersive – more compelling to the listener’s imagination? K.M. Weiland’s Wayfarer from Sargent Family Productions passes with flying colors. If it sounds like like your cup of tea, I’m pretty positive you won’t be disappointed. Check it out in these places:

Awesound (Use code ATC through September 2023 for 50% off.)

Parents: If this story were a movie, it would be PG-13 for violence. If your kids can handle Lord of the Rings, this will likely be fine for them. But it is aimed at older kids and adults.

For more from Sargent Family Productions, check out their book/audiobook Generations by Kenny Sargent. The sequel, Generations: The DC Gambit, has just been published, with the audiobook/drama going into production hot on its heels. You can also listen to an interview with Kenny Sargent on the ATC podcast by clicking here.

Joah Pearson is an audio drama junky residing in the Goober State. He and his nine younger siblings have grown up on OG Jonathan Park and FOTF Radio Theatre - with a smattering of AIO and a good dose of Lamplighter Theatre. If he's not listening to audio drama, he's probably starting a new book instead of finishing the 19 others he already started.


Sargent Family Productions 5201637825154838657

Check out our radio station!

Sentry Password Protection Member Login
Member Login
Forgot? Show
Stay Logged In
My Profile
Javascript Required

Subscribe To The Show

Apple Podcasts



Subscribe via Email

RSS Feed

Top Posts

Recent Comments

Shop Our Affiliates