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Dark Shadows: The Crimson Pearl by James Goss and Joseph Lidster

01/01/2012. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Dark Shadows: The Crimson Pearl in the USA - or Buy Dark Shadows: The Crimson Pearl in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 1 CD 60 minute story. Price: CD: GBP 9.99 (UK), Download: GBP 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-595-2. cast: David Ames, Nancy Barrett, Nicola Bryant, Ursula Burton, Roger Davis, Nigel Fairs, James Goss, Lizzie Hopley, Jerry Lacy, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Alex Mallinson, Lara Parker, Christopher Pennock, David Selby, Alisdair Sladen, Rebecca Staab, Roy Thinnes, James Unsworth and Matthew Waterhouse.

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As a child I thought the sitcom ‘Soap’ was a spoof of American daytime drama. Such extreme things took place that I thought that they were cranking up the silly plot-lines. That was before I discovered ‘Dark Shadows’. All the madness of ‘Soap’ and a whole lot more took place at the house at Collingswood from 1966 to 1971 and briefly in the 1990s. If you have never dropped into the bizarre worlds of this American soap then you might consider ‘The Crimson Pearl’ as a first taste of the baroque madness. This audio, that lasts for about sixty minutes, takes us on a glorious ride through the centuries, the craziness, vampires, werewolves and the alternative timelines of the massive universe that is ‘Dark Shadows’. Centred on the Collins family, brothers who are vampire and an immortal werewolf, with a witch and a succession of visitors and retainers with their own weirdness there is a huge cast to draw new stories from.

Given the array of characters, it is fitting that numerous voices are part of this story. It begins when Josiah Collins is travelling to the new world. It’s about a fresh beginning, the line of the Collins family making its mark in the virgin territories of what will be known as Maine and founding the town of Collinsport.

As the weather turns colder, the ship’s captain brings to Josiah a crimson pearl which appears as to have fallen from the sky. Josiah is full of joy for this great treasure believing it will bring good fortune but, as the years pass, it seems that it brings both kinds of luck.
Through the centuries, the pearl changes hands and characters you may be familiar with weave in and out of the story. Finally, it is down to the immortal Quentin Collins to take the pearl for himself and endeavour to solve its mystery.

Told by several narrators this is a great introduction to the strange and occasionally complicated world of ‘Dark Shadows’. Offering little glimpses into other narratives such as ‘The Blind Painter’, it fulfils the remit of piquing interest in the casual listener.

Before long, you will be hooked by the outlandish happenings and parallel timelines and then there is no escape. The curse of the Collins will be on you and before you know it you’ll be purchasing the whole range.

Having now heard a few ‘Dark Shadows’ audios, this one really cranked up my enthusiasm for the audios. I think this line from Big Finish will continue to grow over the next year or so. As ever, the sound design and production is excellent and although this is not a full cast drama it gives more than just a reading.

Interest will continue to grow as we get closer to the new ‘Dark Shadows’ film and see if Johnny Depp will inject life into the vampire Barnabas Collins. Meanwhile, these audios are a great way to get to know the cursed family.

Sue Davies

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