The story of the Christmas truce in 1914 during World War I is an emotionally powerful and resonant event to anyone who hears about it. I’ve seen and/or heard several dramatic presentations of it. The Audible Originals audio drama Christmas Eve 1914 is the best dramatization of the event I’ve experienced.
The production focuses on a group of young lieutenants in a company whose captain has died. They’ve rotated in on Christmas Eve and expect a quiet night, but get word from the Colonel at HQ that a German attack is expected and they need to prepare. At the same time, a fresh young Sub-Lieutenant, who lied about his age to get into the Army, joins them on the front lines.
The play is well-written. Christmas Eve 1914 takes listeners in the thick of conflict and immerses us in the war-weary world of these young officers. The play focuses on the horrors of war and the way they relate to the war and each other for most of the run-time. The truce only comes into play in the last twenty minutes. As a result, we feel the bittersweet impact of the event, knowing, in a day, our heroes will return to the nightmares of war.
The acting is solid. Almost every character is well-characterized, and the best drama comes from hearing them interact and play off each other.
The sound design and music are superb, doing a great job creating a realistic feel and atmosphere. The sound design and music never overwhelm the listeners or the story.
The Colonel was written as a stereotypical clueless and hypocritical senior officer who was gung ho about putting other people in danger. The Colonel’s best skills is not-too-subtly trying to play the lieutenants’ ambition to become the next captain against one another. Thankfully, while important, the Colonel’s part is relatively small.
Overall, Christmas Eve 1914 is a great Christmas Story, a great drama, and a great example of how good modern Audio Drama can be.
Rating: 4.75 out of 5
Christmas 1914 is available as one of the free Audible
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