AUDIO REVIEW: The Legend of Springheel’d Jack Series Two

Folly Ditch, 1845. When a fire-breathing maniac kills 13-year-old Maria Davis, Springheel Jack is blamed. Detective Inspector Jonah Smith is hot on the trail but soon finds himself accused of an equally terrible crime…

The first series of Springheel Jack from the Wireless Theatre Company was a great audio drama, set in the grimy streets and back alleys of London. It spun a murderous tale of black magic, mystery and adventure revolving around the ominous presence of  a folk legend made real – Springheel Jack.

While I really enjoyed this second instalment in the series I found that I did prefer the first series more. Most of this I attribute to that fact that I just enjoyed the series one plot more and nothing really to do with the performances or the sound effects, all of which were top notch.

The voice work in this second series was stellar with a lionshare of the credit going to Christopher Finney as Detective Inspector Jonah Smith, who has a unique relationship with Springheel’d Jack and one which he is willing to lose everything to understand. We meet a very different Smith in this series, one who is equal parts haunted and obsessed with his quarry.  He spends most of the adventure on the back foot, which adds to the tension of the story. I do feel that one particular loss he suffers earlier on could have benefited with a little more time to see Smith’s reaction to it but it would have risked slowing down the pace to do so.

Lizzie Coombes who plays magician’s assistant Josephine Timmins and the Punch and and Judy man are great but as I won’t say too much more about their roles as I don’t want to give too much away. Inspector Garrick (Neil McCormack) was a great addition to the cast and I found myself wishing he had been given even more airtime than he had (spin off please. Also hats off to the production team who managed get Nicholas Parsons on board as magician Cuthbert Leach. Parsons does well in the role and where it would have been easy to make him the comic relief Parson brings gravitas to his performance as the ageing magician working towards ‘one last great trick’.

Rounding out the cast is John Holden White as Malcolm Rymer who does an outstanding job at bookending each episode as the narrator as well as appearing throughout the story as himself. The images he is able to paint of a London that no longer exists just with words is spellbinding. I would love to see the voice actor do audio books (if he’s not already doing it) as well as audio dramas as he certainly has the knack for it.

Given the time period and storyline SHJ is not as dark as a show like BBC’s Ripper Street but it did in places remind of the show, especially in Smith dealings with Inspector Garrick. I could easily see (or in this case listen to some kind of audio crossover with Smith and Garrick joining forces the Ripper Street mob. In terms of tone and setting I thought SHJ would feel right at home in the ‘Young Sherlock Holmes’ film universe. In fact at the end of the  final episode one of the characters utters a line which was eerily similar to a line that Watson delivers to Holmes at the end of the film. If you know your young Sherlock Holmes you will know the line when you hear and  like it did with me I’m sure it will being a smile to your face.

Overall The Legend of Springheel’d Jack Series Two is fun romp, which some great voice action and effects. The story moves at a nice place and while we do get a little closer to uncovering the full mystery of Springheel’d jack I was still left with more questions than answers.

I look forward to more adventures!

Title: The Legend of Springheel’d Jack Series Two

Publisher: Wireless Theatre Company

Reviewer: Nuge

Rating: 4/5

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