Sebastian Shaw has collapsed after bringing Maggie Evans to the Windcliff Asylum. He wakes to find himself confined, with Maggie long gone. He’s been there quite a time but now he starts to take notice. Sebastian likes the new psychiatrist. He doesn’t mind talking to her. After months of silence and confusion, he suddenly has got a lot to say and it seems the doctor is the one having the disturbing dreams.
For the therapist is the spitting image of Maggie except she is now blonde and our patient believes he is talking to his old love. She has to convince Sebastian that her name is Doctor Laurie Norris and she is trying to help him. But maybe it’s not him that needs the help as her dreams get increasingly uncomfortable. Her place of relaxation by the imaginary water is gradually becoming a place she is afraid to go to. How long before the dreams become nightmares?
‘Dreaming Of The Water’ is full of Freudian allusion, following the popular gothic obsessions of repression and sexual desire still manages to be threatening and dark. Overblown it might be but the themes are simply replaying this from with the original series and we expect that. ‘Dreaming’ teases us with the same actress playing a different character this builds up a nice tension and uncertainty. As Maggie changes from brunette to blonde, seemingly, over a short period of time you can’t help thinking of ‘Marnie’ where there is constant reworking of the outward appearance of the same actress. This was also a feature of the original ‘Dark Shadows’ TV series where it was effectively a repertory company that played many parts keeping the cost down and the audience scratching their heads. Used to good effect here, we are constantly left wondering if this similarity will prove to be significant. The threat is unknown and we are backfooted by both the Doctor and Sebastian’s behaviours. This makes this quite unnerving putting us a little bit into the position of Sebastian. Christopher Pennock as Sebastian puts in an excellent performance as the Hitchcockian stress builds up to its final disturbing conclusion.
The story, written by Kymberly Ashman, feeds off our expectations and teases them quite a bit. It plays with our demand for a positive outcome and, as in life, we don’t always get what we want. It’s effectively directed by Darren Goss and, of course, as ever the music and sound design by David Darlington is spot on with a great glossy finish.
‘Dreaming Of The Water’ follows the normal pattern of ‘Dark Shadows’ enhanced audio books and brings back another character played by the original actor. In the series, Sebastian was an astrologer in the 1970 timeline who foresaw the destruction of Collinwood. Christopher Pinnock also played Jeb Hawkes, a role he reprised in the Big Finish audio ‘The Crimson Pearl’ and hopefully he will continue to contribute to the ‘Dark Shadows’ collection.
(pub: Big Finish. 1 CD 60 minute story. Price: CD: £ 9.99 (UK), Download: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-955-4)
cast: Christopher Pennock, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Antonio Rastelli and Scott Handcock
check out website: www.bigfinish.com