Tom Baker stars in this BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of John le Carré’s powerful thriller. In the third year of perestroika, London publisher Barley Blair is sent a manuscript from Moscow. Exposing Russian nuclear threats as a sham, the information - if it’s genuine - could shatter East-West relations. Jazz-loving, hard-drinking Blair is hardly the spymasters’ idea of the perfect agent, yet they are forced to send him to Moscow to make contact. But the Cold War thaws when Barley meets Katya, the beautiful Russian intermediary who is equally sceptical of state ideology. Mere pawns in a deadly game of international espionage, they nevertheless represent the breakdown of hostilities and a future which poses a huge threat to the entrenched professionals on both sides... Both a gripping spy saga and a poignant love story, The Russia House delivers all the excitement and tension expected from the master of espionage fiction. This BBC Radio 4 adaptation was dramatised by René Basilico.
©1989 David Cornwall (P)2011 AudioGO Ltd
As a Le Carre fan I've exhausted Audible's selection of his books. So I turned to the dramatised production of Russia House in hopes of getting more. I have ot say it's a bit of a letdown, with a lot of over-acting and irritating sound effects that I found distracting. Although Russia House was made into a pretty bad movie (starring Sean Connery), some of Le Carre's books have been successfully adapted to film and television (Smiley's People with Alec Guinness is simply superb). It's not an impossible task to capture Le Carre's distinctive prose style and nuanced characters in a medium other than the printed word. This dramatised version of Russia House falls far short of excellence. I hope that Audible will add the book to its offerings at some point.
"Top notch dramatisation"
I have to say that this adaptation is a must for those who have enjoyed BBC Radio 4's recent "The complete Smiley". Tom Baker is utterly magnificent as Barley, a larger than life character. It is one of those dramatisations you find yourself listening to from start to finish in one sitting.
"well acted, but something lacking in the story"
In the other Le Carre books I've read/listened to (Smiley trilogy, Perfect Spy) there was something astonishing about the structure of the story and the intricacies of the betrayals involved. In comparison, this seemed slight. I liked the character of Barley Blair but I didn't really believe in the love story and I kept waiting for something else to happen.
"ahh.. Carre and Baker at their best"
I thought the Sean Connery filmed version of this story was great, but Tom Baker manages to top it. He's got precisely the right devil-may-care attitude for the Barley Blair character, which so frustrates the CIA in their dealings with him. An excellent dramatisation by all the actors involved, and thoroughly enjoyable.
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