Starring Christopher Pennock and Kathryn Leigh Scott, with Antonio Rastelli and Scott Handcock
Written by Kymberly Ashman, Directed by Darren Gross
In which Sebastian Shaw (Pennock), having committed Maggie Evans (Scott) to Windcliff Sanitarium for her own safety, wakes up to discover he’s been a patient there himself for the past six months …
A groovily-garbed astrologer cursed with accurate predictions, Sebastian Shaw appeared in just over a dozen episodes of Dark Shadows’ final present-day storyline before the show abruptly shifted to a plot set in 1840, and some fans have wondered ever since what happened to him – and now we know.
Suffering a debilitating vision after committing Maggie, the raving Sebastian was admitted for his own good and now finds himself under the care of Dr. Laurie Norris, a psychiatrist whom he keeps mistaking for Maggie Evans. Since Kathryn Leigh Scott plays both roles, this confusion is understandable, and it fuels much of the tension in Dreaming of the Water – particularly once we learn that Dr. Norris only superficially resembles her “lookalike”…
By focusing on disturbances of the mind and how these can alter one’s perception of reality, this story firmly rests on unsettling territory, especially as the listener is presumed to know more about recent events in Collinsport than Dr. Norris does. She’s trying to convince Sebastian that these stories of vampires and predicting the future are just delusions – and to a rational mind like hers, what else could they be? But we listeners already know that Sebastian is telling the truth about being a vampire’s thrall – no matter how crazy it may sound. Also, some much-needed background story for Sebastian goes a long way in making the character rather more three-dimensional than he was onscreen.
Nor surprisingly, this premise results in another dialogue-heavy story, replete with diary readings, inner monologues and lots of psychobabble that threaten to drain the tale of its tension. Luckily, both Pennock and Scott give the tête-à-têtes their all, ratcheting up the level of anticipation as to when Sebastian will finally snap, and what will happen to Dr. Norris as a result.
Verdict: A taut psychodrama brimming with strong performances that transcend a damp squib of a climax. 6/10
John S. Hall