03 January 2016

Audio Review: Dark Shadows - In the Twinkling of an Eye

Dark Shadows is inherently absurd. The majority of its characters are connected to the supernatural in some way and every instalment (at least in the Big Finish stories) features some kind of fantastical villain, and I love all that. It's part of the fun of the series. Even taking all that into account, In the Twinkling of an Eye really is odd.

During last year's 13-part epic Bloodlust, Jessica Griffin was struck down and hospitalised. A few weeks later, we catch up with her back behind the bar of the Blue Whale, Collinsport's watering hole, seemingly fine. Bored and lonely, young Jackie Tate has befriended Jessica as she hopes to while away the days. But a new arrival threatens their friendship. Nate is a mysterious character, and deliberately so. Even after the story's over, I'm still not entirely clear who he actually was.

If a story has to be about something, In the Twinkling of an Eye would seem to be about Jessica Griffin confronting her past. We're initially told that Nate is a nurse who helped Jessica with her recovery but over the course of this hour-long story, he reveals rather different motives. As he takes Jackie and Jessica on a tour of the newly-tidied garden of her former home, we discover he is in fact an entity who came to help the latter move over to the other side. When Jessica was attacked, Nate was supposed to be there to help her as she died but an encounter with Jackie slowed him down meaning he couldn't do his job.

It's quite a convoluted path to get to this point, through dream sequences that I presume are supposed to show Jessica on the brink of death, and a relationship with Nate that lasts a good few weeks. This is the first of these six stories from last year to actually be set in Collinsport and it couldn't be more different from my only other reference point - Bloodlust. We swim in and out of the action like Jessica swimming in and out of consciousness and I do appreciate what is trying to be achieved here, and there's a lot to credit, it's just not to my tastes. I'm not saying I want every story to be 'traditional' - far from it - it's just that In the Twinkling of an Eye isn't my thing.

The quality of the production is still worthy of note (particularly David Darlington's sound design and music) and I like that the Dark Shadows production team are trying out different things. I know this one has been very well-received so I tried listening on four occasions, at different times of day, in different locations. I'm sorry to say it still doesn't quite click for me in the way the others did. I still recommend this as it's so unusual - and an interesting look at how the town's getting on in the wake of Bloodlust - but it's too odd for me.

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