Dark Shadows: Review: Big Finish Audio 13: London’s Burning

Starring David Selby and Louise Jameson

Written by Joseph Lidster, Directed by Darren Gross

In which Quentin Collins (Selby) takes shelter in a 1941 London bomb shelter and meets Rosie Faye (Jameson), a woman with no memories of the peculiar adventure they shared in 1906…

The first mingling of Doctor Who actors in the Dark Shadows universe is, happily, a success. Louise Jameson, by now a Big Finish veteran, does a terrific job with terrific materials courtesy of Joseph Lidster. Listeners who only know her as Leela are in for a treat, especially when she raucously belts out “I Wanna Dance with You”!

Sister of the short-lived psychic showgirl Pansy Faye, Rosie carries on the theatrical traditions, and soon captivates Quentin with her passion and verve after they witness a young lady of the night spontaneously combust. They soon become entangled in an interested party’s investigations into these macabre events – someone with no reason to believe Quentin and Rosie’s innocence, and every reason to suspect them…

At this point, things get a bit crowded for a one-disc audio, and London’s Burning could’ve easily spread across two (nor would I have been surprised to hear the plummy tones of Jago and Litefoot, as this infernal incident is right up their alley – and indeed right in their backyard – but I digress). In particular, the investigator’s background and motivations bear further exploration – any chance of a follow-up, Big Finish? – and it would be nice if these Quentin-centric stories didn’t leave quite so many dangling plot threads and new enemies swearing deadly revenge.

Also, it bears mentioning that thus far, these audios have been quite solemn, sometimes verging on portentous. But considering that Dark Shadows is a property celebrated for its less-than-special effects, on-air bloopers and declamatory acting, this direction is understandable – Big Finish wants listeners to appreciate the potential that’s often overshadowed by technical shortcomings. Here, for the first time, we have an audio with a sense of fun, humour and enjoyment – as if the range were finally letting itself relax after striving to be taken seriously. And the humour is organic and character-based – such as Rosie puncturing Quentin’s unintentional self-importance – rather than forced. It’s a novelty for these audios, and a welcome change of tone.

Verdict: Lucky thirteen! Selby and Jameson make the most of a giddy brew, even if too many ingredients get tossed in the mix…  8/10

John S. Hall

Click here to order London’s Burning from Big Finish

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