Darkest Night is a new episodic audio drama focused on the Roth Lobdow Centre for Advanced Research, an American company, which you quickly learn is tied up in a range of projects that range from the violent, to the fantastical, to the absurd.
This is all revealed through a recording taken by a new lab assistant who has been put on testing for Project Cyclops, an attempt to visually and audibly recreate the last moments before a person’s death. This results in a variety of carefully engineered soundscapes with new casts of characters in diverse but gripping scenarios, all bound up with the dark secrets of the research centre.
In the first episode, the new lab assistant performs a procedure with a human head. We are quickly immersed in the reading of a video will that dictates the terms for a battle to the death held between the three heirs of the recently deceased Roth Lobdow. Their mansion is the setting for this contest of siblings, the result of which is two of their heads being left to the disposal of the centre’s research.
Each episode presents the listener with a dramatically different setting, leaving the story with a lack of coherency. However, each story is engaging in its own right.
The one thing linking them all together is the beginning and ending of each episode. For example, the moment in which the two scientists perform the experiment reveals the connections between the story of the death and the major players who run the centre.
Already five episodes in, I cannot begin to guess at the true purpose of the centre or how all of these implausible deaths could be connected. Therein lies the main problem: the story expands, presenting a broader and more complicated mystery, so much faster than it is resolved.
However, despite this discordance, I find myself coming back each week eager for the immersive and unexpected experience that is listening to this podcast.
Image: StFX Physical Sciences Center