Reviewed By: Eiphel
Review Date: 1/11/11 12:43 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
The Necropolis Express is a slight step up from Litefoot and Sanders, with the first two thirds being particularly good, though the climax a little weak.
The beginning is very pleasing with its atmospherics. Jago and Litefoot convene in a station, the Red Tavern no longer a favoured haunt. The joy of their partnership comes out in Litefoot gently teasing Henry. The clandestine train to take corpses from the city is wonderfully flavourful. The duo alone in the countryside at night, beside a railway line and an old crumbling church - This is delicious stuff.
Things are kicked up a notch with the arrival of Rubin Mord, a deliciously gothic character that reminded me of the central figure in The Goblins Who Stole a Sexton. Played just the right side of a characture, with some delicious dialogue, he really gets the plot rolling.
The shift in tone upon entering the church is disappointing only because of the loss of the wonderful nighttime countryside atmosphere, but the deserted lab, whilst something of an old staple, remains rich. The arrival of Crow, like Mord, notches things up again by progressing the plot whilst furnishing us with delicious dialogue. I feel Jago finds himself a little sidelined here - sent trotting off down a corridor whilst Crow and Litefoot banter at length, but it's great banter and Jago tends to get the lion's share in most stories, so it's fair enough.
After this, I felt things fizzled slightly, though still largely entertaining. The story slides away from ghastly horror and into somewhat straightforward mad scientist territory, though I still enjoyed Crow's motives. The resolution comes in slightly predictable form, and I confess the climax felt more noisy than dramatic. The coda is gently, characterful, and pleasing (though a little puzzling - Why Litefoot thinks Jago's glib suggestion just might work is unclear), although I have to admit, I felt it curtailed the opportunity to explore the potential aftermath of Litefoot and Sanders. This, along with feelings on the previous story, and a final scene that I would have expected later in the series, leads me to wonder if this season is just too compressed at four stories. Anyway, on the whole, The Necropolis Express is a worthy 8/10, which may have been even stronger if the whole play had maintained the style of the first half.