The Temple by H. P. Lovecraft, adapted by Julie Hoverson

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19 Nocturne Boulevard, November 2011
Another adaptation of an H. P. Lovecraft short story; The Temple was written in 1920, and first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales five years later.
Set on a German U-boat at the end of World War I, the tale recounts of a manuscript describing the last days of the narrator, Altberg. It begins with an attempt on the part of the U-boat's crew to find a body from one of the ships they have sunk; once they have found it, they discover a mysterious piece of ivory. 
This ivory possesses strange powers, causing the crew to experience fatigue and nightmares. Altberg doesn't believe any of these tales, and enacts brutal punishment on those sailors he considers not sufficiently 'unmanly' to serve on his craft.  Things go from bad to worse: an explosion destroys the U-boat's engines, rendering the craft useless for further active service. Eventually it cannot even return to the surface, condemning everyone to a watery grave.  The crew attempt to mutiny, but all of them are eventually murdered by Altberg.  Altberg is left alone, but rather than dying himself, he makes an astonishing discovery ...
A macabre detail, combining a belief in the power of ancient symbols with a ghoulish fascination with the fact of death.  In formal terms, the tale is reminiscent of Agatha Christie's immortal Ten Little Indians, where a group of people are gradually disposed of, until only one remains.  However, as is characteristic with Lovecraft, "The Temple" makes us understand the power of the past to influence the present.
Cleverly staged by Julie Hoverson, with an ominous use of sound effects - for example, a continuous banging on the soundtrack, suggesting some kind of doom - this drama proved riveting listening, even though some of the German accents did sound a little forced (reminiscent of those used in the Eighties British comedy series 'Allo 'Allo).