‘THE DEVIL CAT’ (DS)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Sarah Sutton Joins ‘Dark Shadows’
For the lovely Sarah Sutton
Sarah suggested I review this ‘Dark Shadows’ play. 🙂
When I heard the news that Sarah Sutton was to appear in a ‘Dark Shadows’ audio by Big Finish, I was tremendously excited! Sarah is well-known as Nyssa of Traken in ‘Doctor Who’. I’m now a huge fan of Sarah’s and to know that she was to appear in a ‘Dark Shadows’ audio was terribly irresistible.
I immediately pre-ordered the ‘Dark Shadows’ CD following the news. With the advent of the 2014 Fifth Doctor and Nyssa trilogy; ‘The Fifth Doctor Box Set’ and ‘The Devil Cat’ audio play from ‘Dark Shadows’, I just couldn’t wait. Although I don’t know or seen anything of ‘Dark Shadows’ as a series.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘The Devil Cat’ signed by lovely Sarah Sutton at the ‘Time Warp’ convention in Weston-super-mare, 2014. I’ve had some lovely chats with Sarah about this ‘Dark Shadows’ play at conventions before and after its release, including at Cardiff; Weston-super-Mare and Sheffield.
I’ll try my best to explain what’s happening in this play from listening to it. ‘Dark Shadows’ was a American TV soap opera involving vampires; werewolves and witches, made in the 1960s. ‘The Devil Cat’ is the fifth episode of the ‘Tony & Cassandra’ story arc. The audio play stars Jerry Lacy and Lara Parker who played Tony Peterson and Cassandra Collins from the original ‘Dark Shadows’ TV series.
This play is by Mark Thomas Passmore, who has written for ‘Dark Shadows’ in Big Finish before. This is presumably his fourth ‘Dark Shadows’ Big Finish audio drama. The play is about 70 minutes approve, in length according to the back cover. The first four episodes of the ‘Tony & Cassandra’ story arc were ‘The Death Mask’; ‘The Voodoo Amulet’; ‘The Last Stop’ and ‘The Phantom Bride’.
In the story, Tony and Cassandra are on vacation in England. They go to the village of Little Bascombe to visit Tony’s cousin, Lord Trent Malkin and his wife Ruby. A murder mystery takes place in the village. It involves a cat cult, the disappearance of a maid and a collector’s item of Lord Trent’s.
Tony and Cassandra get caught up in this mystery whilst having to cope with hostile villagers; an unfriendly vicar and little Miss Emma Simon (played by Sarah Sutton). Will Tony and Cassandra solve this mystery on what’s going on? If they do, their own personal relationship could be at risk as well.
I knew about these audio plays produced by Big Finish; but I hadn’t seen any TV episodes of ‘Dark Shadows’. I was aware of ‘Doctor Who’ actors who’ve appeared in these audios including Colin Baker, Louise Jameson, Nicola Bryant and Matthew Waterhouse. Sarah has now joined those actors.
Sarah Sutton guest stars as Miss Emma Simon, a Miss Marple-type of character. From my chats at conventions, Sarah told me that she based her performance as Miss Simon from Geraldine McEwan’s performance as Miss Marple in the ITV series. I could easily visualise Sarah in that version.
Sarah wasn’t sure how she would sound in this audio play. But I assured her how much I would like her as her Miss Marple-type character in this audio. Afterwards, she was pleased when I told her I enjoyed her in this audio. There’s an unexpected and a shocking twist at the end with her character.
Big Finish should do their version of ‘Miss Marple’ starring Sarah Sutton in it. I really enjoyed Sarah’s performance and emailed Big Finish about it. I had a nice reply from Ian Atkins at Big Finish who said it was nice idea, saying he’d forward my suggestion to the Powers That Be. That was so kind of him.
At conventions, I told Sarah that I’ve been writing reviews about her ‘Doctor Who’ stories and she suggested I’d write a review on ‘The Devil Cat’ after its release. I said that I would and Sarah asked me to say nice things about her, which I always do. I’m so happy to be writing this review for Sarah.
This play is set after ‘The Phantom Bride’. It was recorded both in London and in Los Angeles. This, I presume, is because the play is directed by two directors, Darren Goss and David Darlington, with Goss directing Jerry Lacy and Lara Parker in the USA and Darlington directing Sarah Sutton in the UK.
Jerry Lacy stars as Tony Peterson. Tony is a detective and a former attorney/lawyer. He narrates most of the time in the first person, recounting his memory of the story. Tony and Cassandra come from Collinsport (the home of ‘Dark Shadows’). Tony is a straight American guy who loves Cassandra.
You can tell from this play that Tony and Cassandra get on with each other with their friendly jokes and banter. The humorous aspect of their friendship appealed to me, as Tony and Cassandra’s relationship gets explored. Tony expresses his dislike of cats and there are a lot of them in this play.
Lara Parker stars as Cassandra Collins. Cassandra is a witch and was formerly named Angelique before she met Tony. Lara played Cassandra in the original TV series of ‘Dark Shadows’. She seems to have a close relationship with Tony, as the two become detectives and both get to solve mysteries.
Cassandra is unwilling to sacrifice herself to be human and to fall in love with Tony. She is compelled by her witch powers and she serves her master known as the Dark Lord. Cassandra/Angelique has a long history in ‘Dark Shadows’, as references are made to previous plays/episodes from this series.
There are also guest stars William McGeough and Wendy Albiston as Lord Trent and Lady Ruby Malkin. They are the Lord and Lady of the Manor, who welcome Tony and Cassandra to Little Bascombe. Lord Trent and Lady Ruby seem like good company and appear welcoming and friendly.
Lord Trent and Tony have this history when they grew up together through childhood. But neither seems to want to talk about it, as there is tension between the two men. By the climax of the play, there’s a twist with Lord Trent and Lady Ruby as they show their true colours to Tony and Cassandra.
The atmosphere of this play is pretty creepy and unnerving. It’s a story not to be taken likely. Mark Thomas Passmore does know his ‘Dark Shadows’ and macabre-style stories. Although there’s a Agatha Christie atmosphere, despite it being gothic with the cat cult rituals and creepy goings-on’s.
This story sadly has an unhappy ending for Cassandra Collins, which suits the dark atmosphere featured in this gothic ‘Dark Shadows’ audio. This was sad and depressing to listen to. I was getting into the Tony and Cassandra characters and they seemed like detective heroes from ‘The Avengers’.
There aren’t any CD extras on this disc, so no interviews with Sarah Sutton sadly. The CD cover does contain biographies on actors Jerry Lacy; Lara Parker; writer Mark Thomas Passmore; etc. I was disappointed there wasn’t a biography for Sarah Sutton as she deserves it, being the main guest star.
It was great listening to Sarah Sutton in a ‘Dark Shadows’ play. I’m grateful to producer Joseph Lidster and director David Darlington for casting Sarah in it. It was my first ‘Dark Shadows’ audio experience and ‘The Devil Cat’ is pretty standalone, although you may be shocked by its conclusion.
I’m glad I’ve chatted to Sarah about her appearance in ‘Dark Shadows’ at conventions in Cardiff, Weston-super-Mare and Sheffield. To have listened to Sarah in something else other than ‘Doctor Who’ was very refreshing and enjoyable to listen to. I look forward to other works of Sarah Sutton.
Don’t worry if you’re not a ‘Dark Shadows’ fan. If you’re into Sarah Sutton like I am, you shouldn’t have a problem with listening to this audio. Be warned! It’s is full of gothic atmosphere in this audio.
‘The Devil Cat’ (DS) rating – 7/10
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