AUDIO REVIEW: Brenda and Effie: The Woman in a Black Beehive (Paul Magrs – Bafflegab)

0003893918_10The ladies are back! Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of my reading habits will know I love the Brenda and Effie series, in which the Bride of Frankenstein sets up shop as a B&B owner in Whitby and joins up with her neighbour Effie to fight the supernatural. The series ended with Brenda and Effie Forever! but has returned in audio form from the always-excellent Bafflegab. This is an origin story, chronicling Brenda’s arrival at her B&B and the first meeting with Effie. The fun of that is that, with any familiarity with the ongoing series, there’s the familiar places and habits to see forming. Even better, it’s a chance for Effie to shine – the gang of supporting cast are stripped away, and the focus is on the pair of ladies. This particular adventure involves, in signature Magrs style (I’m struggling to define what that is, but a kind of warm and earnest working-class camp, the literary novel in drag) a glowing cat (two, actually), warring fish and chip shops, and the king of the faeries. The chip-shop feud made me laugh out loud (Salt and Battery!) but it’s the cat that steals the show – though a good deal of that is down to the superlative voice acting. It’s Anne Reid’s show though – she’s perfect casting for Brenda, at least in audio – and she’s so adeptly plays Effie that I didn’t initially notice it was the same actress. (Although Effie does occasionally sound like a geriatric Sarah Millican, which is a hard image to shake once you’ve heard it.) It’s wonderful to get back to the world of Brenda and Effie – and Whitby, lovingly rendered by the excellent sound design – and I’m looking forward to the next three installment. I mean, the next one’s called Bat out of Hull…!

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