M. R. James, Number 13 full cast audio play by Bleak December, featuring the voices of Peter Davison (Dr. Who), Terry Wade and Anthony D. P. Mann.
* 150 gram color vinyl
* Deluxe heavy weight gatefold tip-on jacket
* Liner notes by producer Anthony D. P. Mann
* Newly commissioned art by Jeremy Pailler
The sound effects of a pattering rain and crackling fire which begin Bleak December's audio play of M.R. James' tale, "Number 13," immediately set the scene and place the listener within the milieu of over a century ago. Included in James' 1904 anthology, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, this story is just as terrifying now as when it was first released.
As Anthony D.P. Mann's narrator commences relating the narrative to his cousin, the ghost story of what occurred many years ago in Viborg, Denmark, is replete with what he will soon refer to as “dread.” It's especially effective, as James' story begins by alternating rather pleasant elements of the narrator's research into the last days of Danish Roman Catholicism within the Rigsarkiv with his time in room number 12 of the Golden Lion. His days are bright and sunny, with numerous and interesting papers illuminating the history of the area, whereas the nights are interrupted by mysterious noises coming from the supposedly-unoccupied room next door.
The repeated midnight awakenings are soundtracked by both a violin and piano, whose sharp tones serve to heighten the sense of panic and confusion regarding the inhabitant of the neighboring room. The music feels as though, much like the story itself, it has come out of a time over a century ago, illuminated by candlelight and oil lamps. It evokes elements of Giuseppe Tartini's “Devil's Trill Sonata,” as well as that infamous violin trilling from Camille Saint-Saëns' “Danse Macabre.”
The voices from the room beside the narrator's are, as he describes, distinct but indecipherable, and existing as they do in a liminal space wherein the cackling and chanting evoke such a sense of fear that you, too, will find yourself unable to catch your breath and wishing that you had a door between yourself and the mysterious Number 13 which you could securely latch. The slight, almost animal exhalations of whomever – or whatever – might dwell behind that door will find the listener clutching at themselves, in fear of the sepulchral neighbor.
"That claustrophobic feeling" will overtake you as the thing in room number 13 comes closer to being fully revealed and – strangely – even as what lies beyond the door is brought to full description. The door opens, and knowing what has been summoned only makes one feel the cramped confines of the inn's hallway all the more.
And then? Well, you'll have to listen. Pray that your mind doesn't shatter when you discover the truth of what lies behind the door of room number 13.