01/08/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Big Finish. 5 CDs 240 minutes 4 stories and extras. Price: CD: GBP35.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-184435-512-9. cast: Christopher Benjamin, Trevor Baxter, David Collings, Lisa Bowerman, Chloe Howman, Vernon Dobtcheff, Duncan Wisbey, Jennie Stoller, Alex Mallinson and Simon Williams.
check out web site www.BigFinish.com
Since the odd pair of Jago and Litefoot, the pathologist and the theatrical impresario, made their debut in ‘The Talons Of Weng Chiang’ they have been having their adventures outside of the recording booth. Now they have been captured by Big Finish in a splendid first series has lead to the second and ever onward as the fifth has now been confirmed.
Once again, the boxed set has four audio plays with an overall arc that is resolved at the end of the last instalment.
The first called ‘Litefoot And Saunders’ is written by Justin Richards.
Following quickly on the heels of their previous adventures, Henry Jago is disturbed when he finds that Professor Litefoot has a new companion to solve the mystery of bloodless corpses. The affable Mr Saunders (David Collings) is happy to supplant Jago but Henry Jago is not one to give up easily. He decides to undertake his own research, which leads to the blind match girl, Maggs, and a much darker secret that puts Jago, Litefoot and their friend Ellie in danger.
In the second, ‘The Necropolis Express’ by Mark Morris, the compassionate pair look for answers to the plight of Ellie, the barmaid (Lisa Bowerman, who also directs) by boarding the midnight train to a graveyard. The train takes corpses to be buried in the paupers’ graveyard and Jago is disappointed to find they will have to share their berths with the dead. But the problem with the dead is they just won’t lie down!
For part three, ‘The Theatre Of Dreams’ written by Jonathan Morris, the setting is Jago’s own theatre. He thinks he is an excellent showman and has the ideal show to fill his own theatre. So it is that the Theatre de Fantasie makes his wildest imaginings come true. But dreams can also lead to nightmares and our investigative pair find they can no longer tell what’s real as the world of the theatre becomes more powerful.
By the fourth episode, we are following the thread and trying to see how the arc might be resolved. It all comes to an explosive finish in ‘The Ruthven Inheritance’ written by Andy Lane.
Due to circumstances beyond his control, Professor Litefoot is forced to look for alternative work. At the same time, Henry Jago is practically boiling his shoes for food when an unexpected benefactor offers to buy the theatre.
Litefoot also finds a benefactor in Lord Ruthven who requests that Litefoot catalogues the cache of bones located under Ruthven’s country estate. No one is ready for the consequences, it might be time to start looking in the gift horse’s mouth.
The marvellous Simon Williams makes a superb contribution to the proceedings as Lord Ruthven and there is a nice little teaser for series 3 at the end. It will have you squealing in anticipation.
There is something very endearing about these characters which makes all the stories something to treasure. I find both characters jump off the page or out of the recording booth in this case. The character is so well encapsulated by the voice that all we need then is the dressing of the words which further enhance the creations.
There is something about the pairing of Benjamin and Baxter that is infinitely reassuring. It is a spooky yet comfortable listen. Although this has a dark and gothic setting, there is nothing to keep you awake at night. This is a safe and soothing stroll down the dingy streets of Victorian London. Though the stories are not wholly original as they play upon some well known themes of gothic horror, they do have their own charm and are consistently interesting.
Once again these stories are made vivid and real by the power of the claustrophobic intensity of the audio play. They really strike a chord and it seems they could run and run.
Production values are consistently high and the plays are ‘filled-in’ with some excellent mood music and effects. I am probably repeating myself but the theme music is spot on and very memorable. The interaction between the pair is always well-written and convincing. There are good pay-offs in the story and I like having the arc over all four stories which continues to add an extra dimension to the whole series.
Also included is a disc of extras which is some background on the thinking behind the series and interviews with the stars and supporting cast. It’s a good all round package which adds to the enjoyment of the whole.
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