Written by David Lemon, Directed by David Darlington and Joseph Lidster
In which restless Leticia Faye Collins (Barrett), who fits into New York City’s high society like a proverbial square peg, is tempted back onto the stage by charismatic showman Joshua King (Brooke). For her, it’s a return to a lifestyle she thought gone forever – but does new friend have a more sinister agenda in mind…?
By the time it reached the 1840 Flashback, Dark Shadows was running out of steam, with yet another journey into the past, populated by characters seemingly rehashed from previous storylines. While some interesting ideas and concepts were introduced, few were used to their full potential. For example, Leticia Faye – a Cockney mentalist with an affinity for the stage – seemed designed to evoke memories of psychic showgirl Pansy Faye from the 1897 Flashback, down to the same surname and profession. But appearing in only 21 episodes, she was given little chance for genuine development.
Set seventeen years after Leticia’s introduction, Curtain Call has the former music hall mentalist happily married to Desmond Collins and living in New York City, where her attempts to blend into polite society fail spectacularly. Small wonder, then, that when business calls her husband away for weeks at a time, Leticia frequents the Bowery (where she feels more at home than in the large, empty house they share with an imposing housekeeper). There, she crosses paths with Joshua King, a radical whose rabble-rousing rhetoric seems somehow connected to the resurgence of Leticia’s abilities. Long-dormant, her painful visions have returned – dreams of a disturbing, technologically-advanced future ruled by someone she’d hoped to never see again…
While the actors’ efforts are up to the usual high caliber that we’ve come to expect from Big Finish – with the possible exception of the chap who’s seemingly channeling Moe the bartender from The Simpsons – the story itself feels a bit slight compared to the recent spate of heavyweight entries in this range. (Not that every story has to be an epic, mind – but aside from evidently setting up the Big Bad for the 2014 Dark Shadows audios, this entry feels a tad disposable.)
Verdict: While not the strongest “first act”, Curtain Call satisfactorily sets the stage for bigger things to come this year… 6/10
John S. Hall