Saturday Drama on BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4, 26 May 2012
The Countess Narona (Adjoa Andoh) married Lord Mountbarry, who broke
off his engagement to Agnes Lockwood (Jasmine Hyde). However Agnes learns that Mountbarry, whose life was insured for £10,000
in favour of his new wife, has now died of bronchitis. Ferrari, a courier working for the Mountbarry family, has disappeared,
leaving a wife (Alex Rivers), and small children.
Meanwhile Narona meets Agnes Lockwood, and immediately recoils, as if she had seen
a spectre from hell. No one knows quite why, but the experience immediately prompts the Countess to take revenge on Agnes.
In the haunted hotel, which was once the palace where the Countess and her late husband stayed, Agnes undergoes the harrowing
experience of seeing someone apparently coming back from the dead. In the end she discovers it is part of the Countess' plan
to destroy her.
All is revealed at the end, however: the Countess' plans are discovered, while Agnes
manages to put the experience behind her and go off with her long-time suitor Henry Westwick (Harry Lloyd).
Rod Beacham's adaptation stripped "The Haunted Hotel" to its bare essentials
- a Gothic horror story combined with a detective thriller, involving revenge, murder, jealousy and retribution. The cast
thoroughly enjoyed themselves in their roles: I especially liked Andoh's Countess, her dulcet central European tones contrasting
starkly with Agnes' more refined English voice. One could imagine this story being filmed in the 1940s by the Universal horror
unit, with Evelyn Ankers (of the piercing scream, rivalling that of Fay Wray) as the heroine, and Gale Sondergaard as the
Countess. Bruce Young's production offered rip-roaring entertainment for a Saturday afternoon.