I've long been an admirer of Dark Adventure Radio Theatre. The good folks at The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society have shown themselves to be reliable stewards of Lovecraft's legacy, and their audio versions of HPL's tales have always been excellent. After a while, though, I began to wonder what they would do once they ran out of Lovecraft stories amenable to radio-style dramatic adaptation. Fortunately, though, the HPLHS have been giving some thought to the very same issue, and they've proven themselves up to the challenge.
The two previous DART episodes, Dagon: War of Worlds and A Solstice Carol, took a Lovecraft tale (or three, as was the case with the latter adaptation) and spun out a new story inspired by his type of weird fiction. I'm especially fond of DWoW, since it blended Lovecraft with H. G. Wells and Orson Welles, but I have to admit that the idea of combining Lovecraft and Dickens in ASC was also inspired. I've listened to both episodes many times with great enjoyment.
The latest episode, The White Tree: A Tale of Inspector Legrasse, is a new departure for DART. In TWT, the element drawn from Lovecraft's fiction is restricted to a character from a famous tale. Inspector John Raymond Legrasse, who first appeared in "The Call of Cthulhu," heads back to the Louisiana bayou to tangle with a new Lovecraftian menace. The rest of the story is the original work of the HPLHS. According to the credits, Sean Branney, wrote the story and the audio play. He did a bangup job, as far as I'm concerned.
Lovecraft's stories frequently involve someone who is professionally drawn to mystery. Usually, these protagonists are scholars, but others with a personally perilous sense of curiosity show up from time to time. Because Inspector Legrasse is a veteran of weird happenings, it makes sense for him to be keeping a weather eye on the local criminal scene for any re-appearance of the Cthulhu cult (or some other equally disturbing occult danger). Also, because he is a police officer, he can believably swing into action and can do so more believably than many of Lovecraft's rather anemic scholarly protagonists. And, finally, he can be thrust into a historical context that includes voodoo and the Ku Klux Klan. So Branney's choice of Legrasse is an especially good one.
I heartily recommend "The White Tree" to you. I don't want to spoil the plot, so I won't give away any of the details. Just be assured that, as is always the case with DART, you're in good Lovecraftian hands from beginning to end. Here's a new twist: TWT contains significant characters drawn from the ranks of people who usually have only tiny roles in HPL's tales. Women and minorities, that is. Sadly, HPL wasn't good about this sort of thing. Modern listeners will welcome this development.
I'm eagerly looking forward to more new stories from the HPLHS and DART.