The Cleansed Official Website
thecleansed.com, 7 March 2012
Set in the mid-21st century, The Cleansed depicts a hell-on-earth where food is scarce, transport grinds to a halt and power and water supplies are affected. In the opening episode the American government finds itself mired in a war in the Middle East that it cannot win: food is rationed and electricity has been down for months. In a small town in Bangor, Maine, a local radio station tries to make the best of things by churning out endless happy music, interspersed with occasional dramatic treats such as a re-enactment of the classic 1938 broadcast of H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds.
But things do not go according to plan. A pressure-group calling itself "The Dwellers," attacks the radio-station and takes it over, proclaiming as they do so that America has been placed under a state of martial law: no one has any civil liberties left. Their uprising has precisely the opposite effect from what they intend; far from liberating the city, they plunge it into chaos. It is down to a group of citizens and soldiers who mercifully escape The Dwellers' rebellion, to try and restore order.
We are back on familiar territory in The Cleansed: the idea of a small city being beseiged by invaders has been the stuff of science fiction since time immemorial. Fred Greenhalgh's production sets itself apart from run-of-the-mill dramas for two reasons: first, it invites listeners to reflect on the future of the American Constitution, and what the idea of "civil liberty" actually means. Does it give people the freedom to act as they wish, or should their actions be tempered by the rule of law? And who has the right to make those laws, especially in a society where the so-called 'elected' government no longer wields any authority? The Cleansed does not offer any answers, but rather brings these issues to the fore as its episodes unfold.
Secondly, The Cleansed is notable for its large cast - over twenty credited players including Richard Fish, William Dufris and Rylee Ann Doiron - and for an imaginative use of sound-effects. Recorded entirely on location in and around southern Maine, the drama has a freshness and vitality that can only be achieved in different locations. The project is very much Fred Greenhalgh's baby; he wrote, produced and directed it. I congratulate him on a spectacular achievement. Further episodes in the serial are available on the website http://thecleansed.com.