Episode 2 of Tales from the Tombstone Tavern, the new six part podcast series written by Delmar Terblanche and directed by Jamie Boucher, continues with its analysis of different types of scary stories, with a brilliant example of science fiction horror narrated by Adam, Frankenstein’s Monster (Delmar Terblanche).
This episode opens with a discussion about conspiracy theories led by Wolfgang the Wolfman (Percival Fagent). Wolfgang insists that Stanley Kubrick directed The Shining to apologise for his role in the faking of the Moon Landing which leads to more general conversation about which genre The Shining actually falls into. As Edith, the Wailing Woman (Anna Chedham-Cooper) insists it is a classic ghost story, Annie, the Mummy (Sena Bryer) falls back on Lovecraft, linking back to episode 1.
Adam, who Terblanche plays in a beautifully nervous and unsure way, a fond and respectful nod to the abandonment and ostracisation suffered by the Creature in Mary Shelley’s original novel, states that horror actually comes from humankind’s encounter with science. Both the fear of the loss of science and going back to a technology free world and the fear of science itself are equally terrifying and crises with modernity are at the core of all scary stories.
Adam’s audience insist that science fiction horror is merely associated with 1950s B movies and does not hold up today. In response Adam tells his story about a genetic scientist called Dr Jay Bowman.
A modern story, set against a backdrop of baseball and universities, Adam’s tale opens with the tragic account of Jay’s father’s bone cancer which first led to the loss of his leg and finally the loss of his life. After losing his father, Jay spent some time at the beach, a classic and wonderful setting for a scary story, where he witnesses a starfish who has lost one of its arms regenerating, while the arm itself grows into a new whole starfish nearby.
Considering this alongside the loss of his father’s leg, Jay becomes obsessed with the science of regeneration and his fixation on this leads to both problems in his relationships with his wife, Gillian and son, Mike, and difficulties in his work at a university where he is on his final warning.
But Jay cannot see what is happening in his life outside of his obsession and carries on regardless. But, as our narrator Adam knows all too well, a preoccupation with science can come with an inconceivable price.
The story features some horrific imagery and, together with the minutiae of Jay’s family and work life, a captivating and mesmerising tale is created. As Jay progresses with his work, a feeling of uneasiness gradually creeps upon you and the climax of the tale will leave you speechless, which is also the effect it has on Adam’s captive audience.
Wolfgang and Annie, in particular, are both impressed by Adam’s tale, Annie’s relationship with biology being similar to Adam’s in many ways. As the series continues and we learn more about the monsters sitting around the table, other links are bound to be uncovered and discussed against the backdrop of some horrifying and compelling tales.
Tales from the Tombstone is being released every two days at 12pm until Saturday 31st October and is available wherever you listen to podcasts.
Reviewer: Donna M Day
Reviewed: 23rd October 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★