Sunday, 21 February 2010

Bernice Summerfield: The Stone's Lament

The Stone’s Lament is a small play. Really small. If you count Bernice and Adrian as regulars, then the only additional member of the cast is James Lailey as the elusive, lovestruck, refined gentleman Bratheen Traloor. Usually we get at least a few extra actors to fill out roles but here the small cast suits the enclosed, isolated location, which is definitely the star of the play. Scenes with Adrian wandering around, worrying about his equipment being left out in the rain, instantly give you a natural sense of place and a perfect introduction to the character.

And what a revelation Harry Myers is as Adrian Wall. He doesn’t come across quite as written in the books, but to this point the books haven’t given him much of note to base it off. Here Adrian is a strong, self important man but with a true heart of gold. He seems a perfect companion to Bernice, and although their arguments over the merits of JCBs vs. trowels for the purpose of digging drags a little, it sparks off a brilliant bit of banter. Thankfully no intrusive sound effects are used to accentuate his alien voice, so if you weren’t told he was a giant dog-man you honestly wouldn’t be able to tell.

For those who aren’t familiar with Adrian’s background from the book, there’s only a small mention made of Bernice’s previous indiscretions with this man. It’s immediately clear that he cares about her, and she sees him only as a friend, but the aside-line from Bernice to herself; ‘It’s not his fault you were possessed’ just feels slightly out of place, especially as it isn’t directly relevant to this story. The scene where he bursts into her room in the dead of night ready to please her is amusing though.

After an excellent start with a puzzling mystery and excellent setting, the story degenerates a bit towards the end. The Bratheen-House-Bernice love triangle is interesting, as is the twist of a haunted house that is terrorizing its guest because it’s jealous of them. Effective usage is made of the word bitch in one of my favourite scenes of the play, and although it was slightly obvious that it was Lisa Bowerman doing the computer voiceover the pay off is brilliant.

Unfortunately once Bernice firmly rejects him and he falls into the arms of the house, things grow a little stale. It all ends with a fairly standard monster plot, and a fairly standard explosion that saves the day. It’s not bad, just a shame after the excellent first three quarters.

All in all the Stone’s Lament is a brilliant small play, and an excellent introduction for Adrian Wall to the audio medium. The plot is tight and there are some unusual ‘romance’ related twists to the standard haunted house story that lift it above the standard fair.

8 / 10

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