Audio - Dark Shadows: Kingdom of the Dead, Part 1

Kingdom of the dead

Susan Omand returns to the Dark Shadows to listen to the first episode of a four part full cast audio drama, Kingdom of the Dead (spoilers)...

I am the voice inside your head and I welcome you to my kingdom.

This first episode of the four parter continues directly on from The Rage Beneath and the appearance of the Lorelei, so there may be spoilers if you haven’t listened to that one yet.

A mysterious voice inside Quentin’s head asks him to tell it his story. Quentin responds saying that he and Barnabas died the day after the Lorelei arrived. Flashback to The Rage Beneath episode and Quentin says that Barnabas had cursed the ship to follow them, with “power and corruption, death and betrayal” and Angelique discovered that it was targeting her powers. The Lorelei goes up in flames, which was the end of The Rage Beneath, as it is set aflame by Maggie Evans, with Barnabas and Quentin trapped on board.

The voice asks Quentin where the story begins and Quentin says it was when he went to the Collinsport Inn for coffee. In another flashback, the Inn’s waitress is surprised to see him after him being away for a length of time and gets him a coffee as the flashback fades. But no. Quentin insists that’s not how it happened and asks the voice why it needs to know how the story goes. The voice answers that everyone has a story and that’s what brings them to him. Quentin tries to explain the story again.

Meanwhile Willie Loomis is talking to the Sheriff about Maggie Evans who is missing since the ship went down. Willie denies knowing where she is, although the sheriff doesn’t believe him.

Back to Quentin and the voice still doesn’t believe his story. Quentin is banished back to “the depths” as we go to the Blue Whale, where Angelique Bouchard talks to the owner Ed Griffin, but she is very disorientated and it’s as if he doesn’t know her. She asks about the Lorelei.

Switching back to Willie Loomis, he has gone back to his cottage where he took Maggie after the ship blaze. Maggie talks about the fire, saying it wasn’t her fault and how Angelique was there at the boat and then just disappeared. Then Maggie remembers setting the fire and her sense of satisfaction as it burned, killing Barnabas and Quentin and demands to tell the Sheriff. Willie maintains that she just needs to rest and they’ll make it all right.

Quentin is back in the Collinsport Inn, drinking his coffee with the waitress, who says she is Maggie Evans, even though it is Angelique. She invites him to stay longer and have more of “the finest coffee in Collinsport” but this is all just a vision, as Quentin explains to Barnabas, although he doesn’t recognise the woman in the vision as either Maggie or Angelique. Barnabas agrees that their memories are fading the longer they are trapped by the voice. Quentin remembers the cold of the water and Barnabas asks if they have died. They argue over how to try and escape, Quentin saying they should keep trying different stories and Barnabas refusing to cooperate. Quentin, in trying to make his memories make sense, remembers a safe place before the fire and blames Barnabas’ feud with Oswald Gravenor for their current situation. They argue about the family, about being all that is left and about Collinwood and their current imprisonment. The voice then summons Barnabas.

Back with Angelique and Ed Griffin at the Blue Whale, Ed explains that the ship sank without trace and no bodies were found. Angelique then says she is looking for Maggie Evans. Ed doesn’t know and his wife, Susan, also denies knowing where Maggie is and asks Angelique, who is now confused about someone wanting to know a story, to leave. Susan then admits to Ed that they may not be able to cover for Maggie much longer.

Back to Barnabas and the voice asks him whether he is ready to talk. Barnabas resists and the voice tries to explain why he needs to know. It explains to him that they are on “the Divide” between the living and the dead and the voice’s name is Seraph, the keeper of the path. In a flashback Barnabas is sent back to Maggie Evans, dressed as Barnabas’ old love Josette and listening to her music box. Barnabas cannot resist and, being a vampire, bites Maggie...

Are Barnabas and Quentin alive or dead? Why does Angelique need to find Maggie and what does Seraph want with them all?

I must admit, after the fast paced short episodes of the previous full cast dramas, this was a long and confusing episode, for both the protagonists and the listener. With so many flashbacks, switches and visions, I had to listen to it several times to follow each thread through, as I found it helped to know the end before I understood the build up. The multi strand aspect is always very difficult to portray without visual cues and flitting between different stories, and between reality and fantasy, was maybe just one step too many for me to follow in a single sitting. That said though, once I got my head round what was happening and why certain characters appeared in certain visions, the story of Quentin, Barnabas and Seraph was a really good one and the acting and sound design added richness to the complex tale and I look forward to seeing how it will develop. Willie and Maggie’s story seemed a bit superfluous though until the very end of the episode when I could see that it sets up a new story with a meeting, their final destination and the introduction of new characters but the two stories really could have stood on their own as two half hour episodes rather than mixing them through in an hour long chapter. Hopefully the second episode will be more linear and easy to follow although, as always, I’ll listen until I get it because I enjoy the Dark Shadows characters so much.

Image - Dark Shadows

Available direct from Big Finish.