Audiobook - Dark Shadows: The Darkest Shadow

Dark Shadows: The Darkest Shadow

Susan Omand enters stage left and listens to Dark Shadows: The Darkest Shadow from our friends at Big Finish...

Olivia Corey has been offered the role of her life.

They’re making a movie called The Curse of Collinwood by Mr D Curtis. Apparently it’s based on a true story about an old house in Maine where all manner of terrible things happen.

Olivia is offered the role of ‘Amanda Harris’, a woman created from a painting, destined to fall in love with a cursed man, destined to roam the Earth to find him again.

How could she refuse?

After all, it's the part she was born to play...

Norman Cope is in love with Olivia Corey. Before that, he was in love with Helvetica Stanhope. Luckily for him they are both the same person, the Eternal Actress, Amanda Harris. The story opens with him unveiling a commissioned painting of her by Andy Warhol at the Guggenheim. She is less than impressed with it and it’s only a call from her agent that cuts the argument short. Her agent offers her the role of “Amanda Harris” in a film about Collinwood, written by a certain Mr D Curtis, and Norman talks her into accepting, if only to find out who D Curtis is. They both head to the film lot and Olivia/Amanda is startled to see that the Collinwood house has been completely recreated down to the finest detail, including a sound stage of the graveyard where the roof opens to reveal natural light. This attention to detail is at the insistence of the writer because, as the director states, they “were not allowed” to film at the real house. It gets even more unnerving for Olivia/Amanda as she is introduced to the cast, playing people that she already knows, not to mention the various clauses in her contract, and yet still she isn’t able to meet Mr Curtis. In the meantime, Norman has been talking to the rest of the crew and found out that Mr Curtis watches the dailies overnight and surmises that will be their best chance to speak to him and find out why he is doing all this...

I got to the end of the first part and my first thought was “What?? They can’t leave it there???” What a brilliant cliffhanger with so many questions! Thankfully they didn’t “leave it there” and I listened to the second part immediately.

The second part opens with Olivia/Amanda incarcerated and trying to prove she is who she says she is. I don’t want to give any of the rest of the story away because it answers a lot of the questions posed in the first part, as well as posing a lot more, and it resolves in a way that is satisfyingly worthy of a “Dark Shadows” tale. The story gets even more twisted in the second part than it was in the first and the reappearance of Andy Warhol is a master stroke!

This was a brilliant story and a fantastic way to resolve the Quentin Collins/Amanda Harris thread. As a longer story, on 2 separate CD’s, it gave a lot of time for the complex plot and characters to develop but still managed to hold my interest throughout with the second part being even more engaging than the first, a testament to both the writing of Nev Fountain and the direction of David Darlington and Joseph Lidster. David Selby and Donna McKechnie are, as always, perfect in their parts of Quentin and Amanda. Special mention must also be given to Denise Nickerson as Elspeth Garner, downplayed in a very memorable way as a dipsomanic has-been just looking for a good time but who ends up being a pivotal character to the story. My only slight quibble with some of the other characters is that sometimes the accents don’t quite ring true, particularly Sketch and Ms Albert, being stereotypes rather than natural speaking voices, to my ears at least. I understand that they may have felt the need to exaggerate the accents because of the lack of visual reference in an audio, but this really wasn’t necessary as the writing gave enough depth and personality to the characters.

All in all though, a very enjoyable story and definitely worth investing the extra time to listen to both parts in the same sitting.

Image - Big Finish.
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