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Audio Play / The Sandman (2020)

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A multi-part Audio Adaptation of The Sandman (1989), written by author Neil Gaiman, directed by Dirk Maggs, and scored by James Hannigan for the audiobook platform Audible. Though billed as an audiobook, the adaptation is closer to an Audio Play, as it features a full voice cast, a score, sound effects, and comprehensive narration (provided by Gaiman) in lieu of the comics' rich visuals.

Like the comic, the audiobook follows the titular Sandman aka Morpheus aka Dream (James McAvoy), one of seven nigh-immortal beings known as the Endless tasked with maintaining fundamental universal functions — and his dominion is the dreams of all living things.

Act I of the audio play was released in July 2020, adapting the Preludes and Nocturnes, The Doll's House, and Dream Country arcs of the comic. Act II, adapting Season of Mists, A Game of You, and part of Fables and Reflections, was released in September 2021. Act III, finishing Fables and Reflections and carrying on to Brief Lives and World's End, was released in September 2022. Barring some chapter reshufflings, the audio play is a largely faithful adaptation.


  • Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: As in the comics, the appearances of the Endless can change depending on who is perceiving them. In this auditory medium, it is represented by their accents changing drastically; Morpheus is normally voiced by Scotsman James McAvoy, but his voice changes to that of Black British Jason Forbes when speaking to the ancient African Nada.
  • Audio Adaptation: An audio adaptation of The Sandman (1989). Though billed as an audiobook, it's closer to an audio play, with a full voice cast, narration, and sound effects.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Only a few panels of the original Sleep of the Just were devoted to Wesley Dodds, the Golden Age Sandman. Here, he gets a full scene where he rescues a woman from a mugger/rapist, as well as a brief snippet of him stopping a purse snatcher.
  • The Body Parts That Must Not Be Named: Averted. Unlike in the original version of A Game of You, the conversation about men thinking with different body parts instead of their brains uses the word "dicks" rather than having to use "dorks" as a substitute for it.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • In Act III, a scene in a nightclub has "Tear In Your Hand" by Tori Amos playing. That song includes a Shout-Out to Neil Gaiman and The Sandman:
      If you need me, me and Neil'll be
      Hangin' out with the Dream King.
    • Also in Act III, Charlene says that the concept of a reality storm sounds like "something from Star Trek." Her travelling companion, Brant, is voiced by Wesley Crusher himself, Wil Wheaton.
  • Childlike Voice: Like her siblings, Delirium is a Time Abyss, but to emphasize her position as the youngest of the Endless and the least mentally stable, her voice actress Kristen Schaal gives her a high, kiddy voice.
  • Effeminate Voice: The nonbinary Desire, in contrast to the deeper voices of their brothers, has a lighter, higher speaking voice provided by Justin Vivian Bond.
  • Ethereal Choir: Orpheus's undead chorus in "Thermidor" can be heard here rather than seen on a comic panel as in the source material. It starts with him singing in Greek before being joined in the background by the pile of other decapitated heads. The sight and sound are so chilling Johanna's captors let her escape.
  • Flashy Teleportation: In the "Brief Lives" arc, the Endless' teleportation when arriving or departing conversations with each other are signified with a sparkly sound effect.
  • Glowing Eyes: Both covers for Act I and Act III focus on the powerful immortal Morpheus, and feature his trademark eyes that glow like stars as centerpieces.
  • I Am Very British: Joanna Lumley puts on a posh RP as 19th-century English noblewoman Johanna Constantine.
  • Leitmotif: "The Song of Orpheus" is the melody for all of Orpheus's songs, such as the one he sings on his wedding day and the one he sings during "Thermidor". It also appears as part of the score at some points.
  • The Narrator: Neil Gaiman provides narration for the audiobook, using descriptions to set the scene in place of the comics' visuals.
  • Radio Voice: In "Brief Lives" each chapter begins with soundbytes from earlier chapters made to sound staticky and distorted, akin to a radio.
  • Sentient Sands: Since Morpheus is The Sandman, several pieces of promotional art for the audiobook utilize beings that seem to be made of sand.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Maisie Hill doesn't say her transgender granddaughter died in this version, unlike the comics where she was implied to have been killed by a serial killer.
  • Your Other Left: In part 7 of Brief Lives, Morpheus is briefly heard saying "your other right" when giving directions to Delirium on which way to go through an amusement park maze to get to Destiny's realm.