Review by Stuart Douglas
Following on from the creepy events of the initial instalment of The Brenda and Effie Mysteries, “The Woman in a Black Beehive”, “Bat out of Hull” finds our heroines, Brenda and Effie partaking of the entertainment on offer at the Christmas Hotel (where’s it’s Christmas every day!). Unfortunately the cabaret is supplied by one-time television ventriloquist Barry Lurcher (played by Chris Pavlo) and his decrepit puppet, Tolstoy the Long-Eared Bat (voiced by Alex Lowe). Hopefully it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that Tolstoy is a bit of a bad ‘un, and that his presence spells trouble for the ladies – and everyone else!
Long term fans of author Paul Magrs’ work will recognise both Lurcher and Tolstoy from his earlier Young Adult novel, ‘Hands Up!’, and it seems fitting that in a play which in some ways could serve as a cornerstone of the Brenda stories, old friends like these make a reappearance.
Because this is a revelation of a story for anyone who has followed Brenda through her various radio plays, audio recordings, novels, short stories and even a musical, as she muses on her life and her place in society, and wonders if she has one at all. Anne Reid, as Brenda, outdoes herself in giving voice to her character’s innermost hopes and fears, but is helped all the way by some beautiful writing, solid directing and atmospheric sound design.
And for those who prefer their Brenda a little less serious – don’t worry, there are jokes too!
Part one of this series was excellent, part two was even better – I can hardly wait for part three…
Late breaking news! Bat Out of Hull won the Best Audio Book at the New York Radio Awards in July this year.