Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Giving The Lovecraft Investigations a Fair Listen

The Lovecraft Investigations
When I heard BBC radio was doing an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," I was interested. Then I realized when episodes written by Julian Simpson became available that the storyline was being updated.

I found that notion a bit off-putting. I'm usually open to adaptation and reinterpretation. I love Stuart Gordon's Dagon, though I would have loved to have seen his original, period adaptation of The Shadow Over Innsmouth he wanted to make. Something just didn't quite seem right about contemporary-set stories when I sampled.

Then, after two full series of The Lovecraft Investigations unfurled, a friend mentioned he was really enjoying it. That prompted me to revisit, and especially since it could be downloaded as a convenient podcast, I dived back in.

And found it addictive. The premise for the updating is that the stories are part of an ongoing show within a show, a true crime-investigative podcast. When the focal characters, Kennedy Fisher and Matthew Heawood, begin to look into the disappearance of Charles Dexter Ward their focus turns toward the paranormal.

Familiar elements of the original Lovecraft story prove to be the tip of a weird iceberg that incorporates Lovecraftian plot and characters and modern urban myth such as, later, the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident. Dashes of Aleister Crowley and rocketeer-occultist Jack Parsons go in the mix as well.

Once I'd surrendered my thinking the approach, I was absorbed and along for the ride and ready to country hop and roll with the found-footage-on-audio approach. Kennedy rarely turns off her digital recorder, and she frequently manages to get material uploaded for Matthew to listen to even if she's disappeared for a while, down a dark cavern or somewhere in the Middle East.

Deeply immersed, listening in a dark room without distraction, some genuine Lovecraftian shivers creep into the mix as well, and there's the fun game of deciding what's incorporated where. 

In Innsmouth, for example, it's Kennedy who catches a bus to the mysterious coastal burg, though references to a similar visit by one Robert Olmstead get stirred in. 

I'm a few episodes from the conclusion, and the bonus. 

All episodes are here or wherever you get your podcasts. 


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