Dark Shadows: Review: Big Finish Audio 32: A Collinwood Christmas

acollinwoodchristmascover_cover_largeStarring Jamison Selby and Lizzie Hopley, with James Goss, James Murphy, Jessica Smith and James Unsworth

Written by Lizzie Hopley,

Directed by Darren Gross, Joseph Lidster and Jim Pierson

In which the impetuous actions of gypsy Ivanka Romano (Hopley) cause Collinwood and its master, Jamison Collins (Selby) to be haunted by spirits from the past, present and future on a fateful Christmas Eve…

As you might have guessed, this is the Dark Shadows equivalent of A Christmas Carol, in which a joyless skinflint is forcibly reminded that life is worth living. For the seven years since his wife Catherine died, Jamison Collins has kept a cold and cheerless house for his children Elizabeth and Roger, but Ivanka Romano forcibly changes all that.

Rash but well-meaning, Ivanka is a literal breath of fresh air in the virtual mausoleum that Collinwood has become, but she inadvertently stirs up far more than dust as she dashes from room to room, a spluttering Jamison trailing in her wake. The spirits that arise as a result of her actions have more life and substance than they ought to, and the reason beyond this soon makes itself manifest.

It’s fitting that Jamison Selby plays an adult version of the character he was named after. While at first it seems like a one-note performance, it improves considerably the more he awakens from his fugue – particularly during Jamison’s reunion with his late wife.  As for Lizzie Hopley, she clearly revels in the rich dialogue she’s written for herself as Ivanka (a role she last played in The Crimson Pearl), sparks convincingly against Selby’s Jamison, and defiantly holds her own against the presence that seeks a return to the material world via the gypsy’s powers.

The most unabashedly Christmassy Dark Shadows release to date, A Collinwood Christmas is a festive treat. Long-time listeners (and viewers) will enjoy the nods to past lore as well as audio cameos from several beloved actors festooned throughout the story like coins in a plum pudding. The ending may be almost pure schmaltz, but to find fault it would be as curmudgeonly an act as deriding Ebenezer Scrooge’s effusive actions on the morning of 25th December.

Verdict: A Christmas cracker! 8/10

John S. Hall

Click here to order A Collinwood Christmas from Big Finish

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