Dark Shadows: Review: Big Finish Audio 34: Beneath the Veil

S34_beneaththeveil_cover_mediumtarring Marie Wallace, Brigid Lohrey and Simon Kent, with Kathryn Leigh Scott, Nancy Barrett, Jonathon Marx, Stephanie Ellyne, Christopher Ragland, Stephen Kelly, Scott Handcock, Barra Collins and Jacob Sowersky

Written by Kymberly Ashman

Directed by Darren Gross, David Darlington and Jim Pierson

In which Alfie (Kent) and Emma (Lohrey), two not-to-ordinary young Brits with a semi-unhealthy interest in serial killers and the darker side of human nature, have some car trouble during their tour of America and must stay in Collinsport for a few days. While the locals are friendly enough, only one of them truly takes an interest in these new arrivals – a fellow Collinsport Inn guest named Eve (Wallace)…

The first in a series of “serialised” Dark Shadows audio dramas, Beneath the Veil uses the tried-and-true technique of viewing the familiar locale of Collinsport from the wide-eyed perspectives of two newcomers passing through. Previously employed in The House By the Sea (with which this story shares some similarities and follows up on some of its plot points), this allows for a broader view of the town and unobtrusively sets up numerous plot elements that will be more fully explored in upcoming installments.

For someone who’s just started listening to these stories, the friendly-but-worried innkeeper and the drunken woman at the Blue Whale tavern might just be interesting minor characters, but fans better versed in the show’s lore will appreciate the different perspectives offered on Maggie Evans and Carolyn Stoddard. And then there’s Marie Wallace’s Eve, a seemingly batty old dear who shares Alfie and Emma’s passion for the macabre, inveigling and insinuating her way into their company until it’s as if she’s always been there…

But back to Alfie and Emma. They’re an engaging couple with credible chemistry and a knack for commenting on Collinsport’s peculiarities (which include being fifty miles away from the nearest car repair facility!). Longtime Dark Shadows fans will probably smirk at Alfie and Emma’s glee in realising they’ve landed in a hotbed of murder and terror, and savour how that delight gradually turns into disquiet and then outright fear as the forces of evil take an interest in the town’s newest arrivals. By the story’s end, we know that you can leave Collinsport, but that doesn’t mean that Collinsport leaves you.

Verdict: Big Finish successfully takes Dark Shadows back to its serial roots, discreetly sowing multiple plot seeds for 2013’s releases while engrossing listeners in the fates of the latest “grain for the grist”… 8/10

John S. Hall

Click here to order Beneath the Veil from Big Finish

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