Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Lovecraft in your Lughole

Those lovely people at the HPLHS have done it again!

They've produced a 'wireless' version of Lovecraft's definitively bonkers tale of Elder God malarkey, The Dunwich Horror. As with their earlier At the Mountains of Madness, it's a Dark Adventure Radio Theatre production, done in authentic pre-war style. They're still pushing their sponsors ghastly ciggies, Fleur de Lys. And the CD version of this drama comes with the now familiar array of nice little extras. You get a map of the Dunwich area, a newspaper clipping showing just how degenerate the locals were in 1917 (which was very),  a page from Dr John Dee's faulty copy of the Necronomicon, and a page torn from Wilbur Whateley's notebook, written in weird cypher. Oo-er.

But what of the drama itself? Well, it's pretty darn good. Admitteldy much of the action consists of people talking in the village shop, then talking in the college library, then talking in a professor's study, with occasional digressions for talking in Wizard Whateley's home. But HPL was not writing a drama, and the way the essential narration by Sean Branney is used to link the various scenes is masterful. A solid cast give some genuinely good performances - a lifelong fan of radio drama, I would rate this top notch.

As you'd expect, there's a fair amount of doubling up. Special praise is due to Gary Bolland for taking on the roles of Wizard W. and Dr Hartwell, two very different scholars. I was also impressed with McKerrin Kelly as Lavinia Whateley and Small Frye. But the entire cast are to be congratulated and generally bought drinks for the way the memorable scenes in the story are brought to slimy, screaming life. I didn't re-read TDH before listening to this, but found myself instantly caught up in events and gurgling away to myself at the sheer cosmic peril of it all. 

Oh and there's also some good whippoorwill action, for which much thanks. (Did Stephen King pinch the idea for The Dark Half?) 

What, no quibbles, Valdemar? Well, a trivial one. Who'd have thought that villagers in a small, inbred New England community would have such an interesting range of accents? I'm sure I heard Welsh and Irish, as well as a touch of the Thomas Hardys. But it's excusable when you have a large number of people to distinguish, and some have only a few lines - ones that often end in 'Aaargh!'

So, big ups to Dark Adventure Radio Theatre. I sincerely hope that we'll hear more audio adaptations of HPL stories. If I might have the temerity to make a suggestion (to people who'll probably never read this) - can we have The Shadow Over Innsmouth? Lots of sonic potential there, methinks.

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