Review of Dark Adventure Audio Theatre: The Shadow Over Innsmouth

June 15, 2012
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

SFFaudio EssentialThe Shadow over Innsmouth cover artDark Adventure Radio Theatre: H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth
Adapted from the novella by H.P. Lovecraft; Performed by a full cast
1 CD – Approx. 77 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: HPLHS
Published: October 27, 2009
Themes: / Horror / Cultists / Deep Ones / Cthulhu Mythos /

The final installment of a great series of faux Old Time Radio dramatisations of Lovecraft stories by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s very own Dark Adventure Radio Theatre is probably the easiest to convert in their point of view. By no means do I want to belittle their skill and effort but of all of Lovecrafts stories “Innsmouth”‘s dramaturgy comes easier to audio than, say, The Shadow out of Time [Review]. Bear in mind that Lovecraft was not exactly known for his use of action or suspense in the traditional sense, but  this novella about a degenerated community on New England’s seaside features his attempt of a chase and narrow escape plus a final plot twist.
I assume that most readers will at least be vaguely familiar with the plot but for those who are not here’s a very brief overview.
A young man tours New England, more precisly the fictional area that became known as “Lovecraft Country”, in a search for antiques and his family’s history. He learns of the town of Innsmouth which used to be a prosperous fishing and trading port but which has long ago fallen into gloom and decay, shunned by outsiders and inhabited by secretive people on whom generations of inbreeding have not been kind.
Of course, he disregards all warning not to go there and buys a ticket for the bus to Innsmouth. Ahh, the carelessnes of youth!
Sure, he only wants to get a quick peek and then leave again with the evening bus. What he learns from his own observations and the only two people willing to talk to him – an outside shopkeeper and the town drunkard – is bad enough. All the churches of Innsmouth have  either been abandoned or have been converted for use by the town’s sinister cult the Esoteric Order of Dagon. The cult that was brought to Innsmouth from the Pacific by one of its most prominent captains at a time when Innsmouth’s economy was failing. The new gods helped but at what terrible price our young protagonist is abuot to find out. Too bad that the bus that was supposed to bring him out of town in the evening has most inconveniently broken down leaves him stranded and cut-off in a town filled with people who are not entirely human anymore and even less keen on snooping outsiders than your usual run-of-the-mill hillbillies. Fortunately, there is a room available in the best (and only) hotel in town… and this is where the fun begins – our protagonist has to escape from Innsmouth.
But remember… you may take a man out of Innsmouth but can you take Innsmouth out of the man?
Find out more and watch <a title=” Shadow over Innsmouth Trailer” href=””>the trailer on Youtube.
There is not really much more  to say about the last and thus far final installment of DART that is different from the previous ones. Although the crew does not produce audio dramas for a living they take this serious enough to be on par with most professional publishers, and indeed even better than some. Luckily they don’t take it so serious as to avoid the tongue-in-cheek humour which stands ol’ Lovecraft better than you might think.
The story has been dramatised well, music and sound design are great, the acting convincing and the feeling of an Old Time Radio show has been well preserved. The fact that DART have invented a visit from a government official to the protagonist (a fact actually mentioned in the original story) not only provides a convincing reason why the narrator keeps going on in the typical Lovecraftian monologues but also made it possible to tell  the  story’s ending a bit more dramatic than its literary predecessor.
Every DART show comes as both MP3 download and “enhanced” physical CD. The Shadow over Innsmouth  is no different and the CD contains such props as a “real” match book (with one final match left) of the Gilman hotel, a handdrawn map of Insmouth, a fake newspaper clipping, and a postcard. A nice extra (and free for all) service is the downloadable script to read along.
To round off this the final audio drama the HPLHS offers a nicely designed box in the shape of a classic tube radio that holds all four currently available CDs.
The only thing that this leaves me wanting is more. I want more Dark Adventure Radio shows! Alas, the HPLHS has been awfully quiet on the audio front recently. One can only assume that their resources have been eaten up mainly by their film endeavours.

Posted by Carsten Schmitt

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