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Audio Drama Review




Starring: Tracey Childs, Judith Parks and James McNicholas
Fantom Films
RRP: £12.99
978 1 906263 47 8
Available 17 May 2010

Dark is a psychological paranormal thriller or modern ghost story. Virginia Preston believes she is being haunted by the spirit of her late husband. No longer willing to be continually tormented, she turns in desperation to Simon Elliott, who is a journalist in the field and, as it turns out, a powerful medium. Years before, Virginia had indulged in an affair. Her husband had returned unexpectedly early from a conference trip and caught them. His temper was such that he killed the young man, and for his crime was sentenced by the law to death. But is that really what happened? Simon forcibly quizzes Virginia but then agrees to stay in the room where the original events took place. The room where Virginia's dead husband's spirit still roams...

Victor Pemberton is perhaps best known for his work on Doctor Who, scripting the excellent second doctor story, Fury From the Deep. However, he has written for TV shows such as Timeslip and Ace of Wands, and scripted a number of pieces for radio. The Slide proved so successful that it was optioned for a film. A recently released book, The Slide and Other Radio Dramas, contains The Gold Watch, Kill the Pharaoh, The Fall of Mr Humpty, and this drama, The Dark.

Released by Fantom Films, Dark is very much a traditional ghost story, albeit one which would fit into any contemporary setting. Tracey Childs plays Virginia Preston a little too dramatically for my liking; this emotional over-indulgence is closer to what you would expect in the 1930s and 1940s. Her mother, played by Judith Paris, is suitably sinister and unapproving, but it is James McNicholas's Simon Elliott character which steals the show. Sounding for all the world like popular film critic Mark Kermode, he is practical and questioning, keeping the production grounded.

It's difficult listening to a traditional audio play these days, when we are now so used to the hi-tech audio movie experience pioneered by the maestro Dirk Maggs. So anyone expecting whizzes and bangs should look elsewhere. Fortunately, I'm a firm believer that there is room for all formats in the medium. The sound of chinking teacups is not dead.


Ty Power

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