Grab a drink, The Amelia Project is going to keep you up


While the “The Amelia Project” is intriguing and fresh, the podcast lacks consistency and unexpected twists to keep the audience more engaged.

“The Amelia Project,” produced by theater company Imploding Fictions, is a dark comedy podcast about a secret agency that fakes its clients’ deaths and forges them new identities with each episode spotlighting a different client. Often compared to Sherlock Holmes and Monty Python, the show has won various international accolades including the Audio Verse Awards and One Voice Awards. While the concept is intriguing and fresh, the podcast lacks consistency and unexpected twists to keep the audience more engaged. 

Episodes are serialized into separate plotlines that are loosely connected to each other through the world of “The Amelia Project.” Each episode has an intense and fast-paced plot, high-tech sound effects and characters from different backgrounds that keep listeners hooked. From celebrities and their clones, to even cult leaders who plan to be launched into space, these contrasting characters create an exciting cast. However, as the episodes progress, it becomes increasingly hard to keep track of them all. As a result, the lack of clear character arcs or developments prevent the audience from establishing empathetic and personal connections with the fictional figures. 

One area that the series does excel in is showing emotions through dialogue. When characters are nervous and backed into a corner, they begin to stutter or speak in a strained manner. Exposition and setting are also sprinkled throughout rather than squeezed into the beginning, creating a smoother-flowing story. 

Episodes open with a minute-long segment where the staff of “The Amelia Project” brew various beverages before being interrupted by telephone calls from their new clients. In episode one, they drink hot cocoa and in episode two, they drink empress gray tea — each beverage inspired by their perception of the featured client. The Interviewer a prominent recurring character who can be found chatting with other workers, talking about his niece, or watching reruns of “The One and Only Alicia Cairn” on Youtube. He is in charge of listening to the client’s story and determining whether or not they would be suitable for “The Amelia Project,” along with helping to forge identities. Despite his morally-gray and money-hungry tendencies, his character is likable and personable. But these casual conversations belie the mission of the agency: to launder money through clients who are seeking to escape their reality with bankruptcy or recommendations of life-changing surgeries. 

As the series goes on the episodes start to intertwine, thickening the plot and creating intrigue. Some heavy themes are woven throughout the series like the desperation for money and staving off boredom, but the series makes them novel and refreshing. As it is conveyed through the lenses of the antiheroes, the characters with the most presence are the morally-twisted workers of “The Amelia Project,” like the Interviewer. When people who come to the Amelia Project to look to escape because of wrongdoings that they have committed, the Interviewer isn’t exactly pleased to give them service but does so anyway because of the money that is being offered. 

More is also revealed about the Interviewer and the true intentions of “The Amelia Project,” such as the separation between reality and fiction is blurred as the podcast merges in stories about Amelia Earhart, Martin Luther King Jr. and other well-known modern day references like Sweeney Todd. 

But despite the twisted intentions of the workers behind the Amelia Project, they demonstrate some morsel of ethics as they are reluctant to work with clients who do not deserve to have their lives made anew like serial killers. Yet in the end, they still help out these criminals all in the name of money. This push and pull between morals and greed makes the series all-the-more interesting. 

While the dramatic accents and inflections serve as attention grabbers, they also create gaps in the reliability and realism of the narrative. The southern accents sound chewed up and the voice actors’ British accents include awkward drawls; in effect, the episodes end up seeming artificial and all-too-curated. 

With nothing keeping the story together but dialogue and sound effects, there are not too many details that can be grasped outside of sound design. Because of the podcast form, imagery and sensory language usually present in cinematography or narrated in novels are naturally left out. This forces listeners to use their imagination to truly comprehend the story, which requires a fastidious attention to detail. Although the production is crisp and high quality, novel-loving readers and avid TV fans may find themselves disappointed by the lack of vivid details that make the world come alive, outside of beeps and tea-sloshing effects. Because setting is important to drawing in an audience, the series would benefit from adding a narrator to weave traditional elements of storytelling into the mix.

While its voice acting leaves a lot to be desired, the podcast gives listeners a break from reality and an escape into an intriguing and twisted world. Despite the restriction of solely being able to employ sound for storytelling, “The Amelia Project” will surely echo in listeners’ minds, even if it is confusing and inconsistent at times. “The Amelia Project” is enjoyable overall, especially for fans of conversational narratives, wild plots, morally gray characters and mysteries.