Don’t worry if you’ve not caught any of Paul Magrs’ Brenda and Effie novels; no knowledge of them is required for understanding and enjoying this new series from Bafflegab – in fact if you’re a newbie to the range, it may even be an advantage, since you’re not saddled with foreknowledge. This is the story of how the two meet, and discover the mysteries surrounding a painting that Effie has bought which has some very interesting qualities indeed. Magrs’ work can be an acquired taste but I was drawn in immediately by the contrasting characters, and the drip-drip feed of backstory for both the leads.
It’s a testament to Anne Reid’s vocal work that about half an hour into this play, I checked the details to see who was playing Effie, and was slightly taken aback to realise that she was doing it all herself – or at least the female parts. Alex Lowe and Chris Pavlo do sterling work on the other vocal parts, not all of which are exactly standard!
Edwin Sykes’ music suits the piece perfectly – from what feels like a pastiche of Danse Macabre as the theme to the moments of underscoring – and Simon Robinson’s sound design encompasses dreadful muzak versions of Christmas carols and spooky ethereal locations.
Like the original runs of Big Finish’s Dorian Gray series, this is only available as a download at the moment, but hopefully take-up will be sufficient to warrant a more permanent home down the line. Brenda and Effie are a pair of interfering besoms who it will be fun to spend more time with.
Verdict: A very very different sort of supernatural investigation! 8/10