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Audio Drama Review
Professor Dunning continues to fight the good fight, battling evil, whether it originates in this world or another. What used to be a relatively easy pastime has become more troublesome now that his partner, Lionheart, has gone and done a disappearing act. In an effort to trace the missing Lionheart, Dunning follows his only lead, a clue that points to a series of unsolved murders, now twenty years old. He approaches the only man who may hold some answers, Lionheart’s old police force partner Harr ‘Thumper’ Crow...
The Scarifyers: The Magic Circle (2011 - 117 minutes) is the sixth in the series of delightfully witty mystery plays, set in the nineteen thirties. This current story was written by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris, the music is by Edwin Sykes and the show was produced and directed by Barnard.
Fan of the series will probably be aware that Nicholas Courtney (Lionheart) passed away before this was recorded, so the show acts as both a tribute to a well-loved actor and a chance to introduce a new partner for Dunning. I do not say that David Warner (Harry Crow) is replacing Nick that would be unfair to Nick’s memory and to David Warner’s talent.
For those who have not caught up with this series, and why not, you’re missing a real treat, The Scarifyers is an audio adventure series set in the world of the mid-thirties, when daring do was still possible. It presents a story in the genre of boys own stories, with its tongue most assuredly stuffed in its cheek. The series has attracted some big names as guest players including Nigel Havers, Gabriel Woolf, Leslie Phillips and Brian Blessed.
In the latest adventure Dunning (Terry Malloy) goes in search of his missing friend, uncovering, along the way, a conspiracy within a circle of stage magicians who previously had enlisted the aid of a demon to turn their stage illusions into real magic. Their unholy pact resulted in the murders which Lionheart and Crow were investigating. Unknown to Lionheart the case would end up affecting him more than any other and would be the catalyst for his disappearance.
The combination of absurdist comedy wed to a thrilling mystery remains as well balanced as ever. The script remains sharp and witty with the cast doing the whole thing real justice, grounding their characters just this side of surreal. The only real shame is that the story has to end and we have to wait months to hear the next thrilling adventure.
The story is spread across two CDs with a high level of professionalism in its presentation. The regular cast (and we do hope that David Warner will stay, as his character is different from Nick’s but highly suited to the show) is ably supported by Ewan Bailey, David Benson, Stephen Thorne, Lizzie Roper, Cicely Giddings, Scott Brooksbank, David Bickerstaff and Phil Rose.
Although the show will miss one of its main characters, the story gives Lionheart an exit which does the character justice. As ever, The Scarifyers is a real delight to listen to.