by Will Rogers
When I listened to “Roger Dowds: Millionaire Winner,” by Irish producer Ronan Kelly, I immediately got into sync with the protagonist -‐-‐ when he felt sad, I felt sad. When he felt happy, I felt happy. The listening experience is simple when the character is likable.
With Roger Dowds, likability has everything to do with his desperate sincerity. It spills out of his mouth every time he speaks. It’s a simple, soft, pathetic a voice with an element of pain behind it. You get that quality throughout the piece -‐ it’s a part of who he is: like a whimper. Without even seeing a picture of him, you still get an image of a hunched-‐over, pale-‐skinned body behind Roger’s voice. All in all, you kind of want to feel sorry for him… but when he smiles, you can hear it. You love that smile, British teeth and all.
In the piece, Roger becomes a contestant on the Irish version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” This game show provides structure to hold Roger’s voice. Without this structure, you might be lulled to sleep by Roger’s easy, meek voice. After all, the piece is nearly half an hour long.
The anxiety of “Millionaire” keeps you on the edge of your seat, though, sustaining you through the length of this piece. The narrative’s drama comes largely from the way it
develops as the game show itself unfolds, with its pattern of Tension, Release, Tension, Release. (“Is the answer correct? …Find out after this break.”) The stakes are always building, and you want to know what happens next. While he moves forward in the game show, the story takes you deeper into his personal life. Roger’s voice is there at every moment so you continue to identify with being at the eye of this particular storm. It’s a genuine roller coaster, infused with meaning and purpose. By the end of this story, you’ll feel like you have a new friend.