Congeria is a genre-bending audio drama that tells a new, original story every season. In Season One, we join private detective Jenny Walker as she searches for a missing girl named Claire. The backdrop is a noirish take of New York in the 21st century. Her search puts her in the crosshairs of a mysterious scientist, a ruthless hitman, and a charismatic cult leader. With an ensemble cast and original score, Congeria will pull you into a world of the weird and unnerving.
Right from the start, I knew I was going to love Congeria.
As a hard-boiled detective thriller starring a female private eye, it already improves upon the noir stories I’m familiar with. No more “dames” and “curves in all the right places”. Just good old-fashioned detective work. If anything, Jenny is able to turn sexism to her advantage and gain the upper hand on the sleazebag criminals she faces.
The story starts out as a mystery, with Jenny trying to track down a missing girl. The plot thickens when both the girl and her distraught family turn out to be more than what they seem. And by thickens, I mean the writers slammed on the gas pedal and kept accelerating until the end, racking up quite the body count of innocent pedestrians along the way.
The supernatural elements of the story are light, to the point where I was beginning to question if there would be any after the first couple of episodes. When they are finally introduced they take a back seat to the grounded, gritty noir feel of the story.
One thing I loved about this show was the villains. They drive the story and are just fascinating examples of how fucked up and depraved humanity can be. There’s a mad scientist desperate to prolong her own life, a charismatic leader of a death cult, and a batshit crazy killer for hire with the creepiest laugh you’ve ever heard. These guys might not be thieves, but they sure as hell stole the show. A couple of the episodes were entirely from villain POVs, too.
Congeria was produced by David Cummings (of NoSleep and many other audio dramas fame). Following a drama by Cummings is like watching a new movie by my favorite director: though the stories may vary wildly, you know you’re in for one hell of a ride. One of my favorite creative decisions by him is the lack of in-universe justification for the audio existing. We experience the story without a need for audio diaries or secret recording equipment. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if every film used a found footage framing device it wouldn’t be long before you were looking for something new.
Another fun thing: All of the advertisements are done in-character. Just wait until you hear a deranged serial killer try to sell you a movie subscription service. It’s great, and I wish all advertisement could be this entertaining. There was even a short behind-the-scenes episode one week where there was a pretend bloopers reel of Congeria in different genres. The sitcom take was hilarious, murderous canned laughter and all.
Congeria is probably the closest to a TV show of any audio drama I’ve heard. It has original intro and outro songs (which are catchy as hell) and if I closed my eyes while listening I could easily mistake it for an HBO show. With better sound quality, of course 🙂
Overall, Congeria was a fantastic noir thriller. The sound design and scoring were top-notch, as was the voice acting, and the story kept me on the edge of my seat. The show’s epilogue hints at a new mystery for the next season, and I can’t wait to give it a listen.
Congeria is a free audio drama available through iTunes or wherever you find podcasts. Find out more on their website, congeriapodcast.com, or try a sample of the first episode right now: