Written by James Goss, Directed by Jim Pierson
In which evil stalks the grounds of Trask Academy in 1941, leaving its innocent young victims comatose. Latin master Patrick Llewellyn (Thinnes) seeks to help his headmistress, Charity Trask (Barrett), in banishing this malign entity, but Miss Trask is not herself. Once again, the spirit of Pansy Faye has returned…
An unfortunate pawn in several characters’ schemes, Charity Trask survived the events of 1897, but with an unwanted guest – the spirit of Cockney showgirl Pansy Faye took up residence within the Reverend Trask’s daughter’s mind. Until now, fans never learned anything official/canonical about Charity’s fate, but The Poisoned Soul reveals that she carried on her father’s mission at the former Worthington Hall, building a reputation for turning out well-behaved, educated young women. Pansy Faye had been quiescent for decades, but returns with a vengeance – much to Charity’s chagrin as she belts out a showtune during prayers!
And Nancy Barrett certainly rises to the occasion – delivering what must be the most bonkers Big Finish performance this side of Katy Manning’s Iris Wildthyme! I don’t know if she recorded the two characters’ dialogue separately or alternating between them in “real time” as needed, but it’s quite easy to forget that the same actress is playing both roles. And the way that Charity explains away her aberrant behaviour is a hoot!
As for the rest of the cast, Roy Thinnes does a capable job as Patrick Llewellyn, lending a youthful spin to his character’s innate formality, whilst Nicola Bryant affects a Southern accent for her brief stint as the Academy’s matron. And the style of storytelling – through out-of-sequence flashbacks and letters read aloud – are wholly befitting of a Victorian monster-hunt melodrama (even though The Poisoned Soul takes place in 1941) and harken back nicely to Charity’s origins during that time period.
Verdict: No need to be of two minds about this one – it’s smashing! And as for the plot link to the end of The Carrion Queen, I suspect we’ll just have to wait for the upcoming release entitled The Fall of the House of Trask … 9/10
John S. Hall