Recap: One Degree Under, Episode 1: Paranoia

Riona Millar 17 October 2019
Image credit: Will J-Wood

One Degree Under is the brainchild of established Cambridge thespian, Will J-Wood, shaped by the capable hands of co-directors Olivia Railton and Ella Gold. In this TCS exclusive, we’ll be recapping each episode every week as they appear. Episode One, Paranoia, was written by Olivia Railton and Charissa Cheong.

One Degree Under is breaking into the fictional podcast scene in a way that, so far, other Cambridge Theatre veterans have yet to do. Given that I frighten about as easily as a feral Scottish wildcat, and sometimes can’t handle the jumpscares in Doctor Who (I mean, who wasn’t scared of the kid in the gas mask?), I’m not sure that I’m entirely qualified for the job of recapping episodes of a horror/mystery podcast, but nonetheless, dear reader, I shall brave the possibility of nightmares for you.

The show’s creator, Will J-Wood, very kindly EXCLUSIVELY shared Episode 1, Paranoia, with me in advance, so that I might write up this piece. As far as possible, I shall endeavour to avoid spoilers, but the purists amongst you may wish to listen to the episode before you persevere with the reading. Here is the link to Episode 1:

And here is a picture of a dog, so that you might look away before seeing any possible spoilers.

Disclaimer: I do currently have some variant of Fresher’s Flu, despite now being a veritable old woman, so this may be a more feverdreamy take than future recaps.

And so to my mostly-spoiler-free recap!

Our episode begins with Will and a typewriter, naturally. If you saw last week’s article, complete with trailer, the sound would be familiar to you. Background noise settles into conversation in a student room, where the characters are getting “lit”. There is something faintly Inbetweeners-esque about the vomit-based conversation that ensues, although we move into the explanation of the questions-based drinking game that is Paranoia. It’s the playing of this game that makes up both content and title, but of course, this is no ordinary game of Paranoia… (although I’ve never actually played Paranoia).

Tensions rise, names are called, accusations fly and shots are poured and poured again. Paranoia may be the name of the game, but it’s also the feeling that flows as freely as vodka. Incidentally, it is very pleasing to hear the clink of bottle against glass, something that might be missed without the intimacy of a recording booth. The episode functions in a familiar realm of unstable student relationships and sexual tension, and yet is pushed beyond the norm with deliberately probing questions and all the troubles that naturally come with alcohol… Suspicion brews and tempers flare, but I think that’s all I can say – if you want to know more, you’ll simply have to listen to the episode. Especially if you do PBS. That’s all I’m saying.

There is something distinctly odd about hearing people I know from both theatrical and general student situations (Paranoia’s cast is made up of Aidan Tulloch, Annabelle York, Archie Breare, Ellie Gaunt, and Christoph Marshall, as well as a tiny cameo from Olivia Railton) somehow playing out of the tinny speakers of my secondhand laptop (we can’t all have typewriters, after all…) and not the powerful Dolby(?) systems of the ADC or Corpus Playroom. And yet I enjoy the intimacy of it, as if I’m somehow party to a private showing, where the visuals only really exist in my mind’s eye. I can’t wait to see what next week’s episode will whisper to me under cover of dark.

Nonetheless, if they keep up this particular level of spook, I might have to get some headphone splitters and ask someone round to keep me company – like I said, I don’t do jumpscares.