Friday, March 31, 2017

Review: Trask the Excorcist

Art from Dark Shadows: Year One by Guiu Vilanova.

Exactly how full of shit was the Reverend Trask?

Arguably the primary antagonist of the 1795 story arc of DARK SHADOWS, Trask was a man of mysteries. The self-styled "witch hunter" offered no first name, verifiable credentials, or even any tangible motives for his bad behavior. There was no doubt that Trask was a charlatan, but was he intentionally deceptive, self delusional or a bit of both?

"Trask the Exorcist" seeks to explore the many, many character flaws of Barnabas Collins' favorite punching bag. The first of four stories in Big Finish's "Echoes of the Past," actor/writer Jerry Lacy takes us back a short time before Trask's arrival at Collinsport as his character engages with a young woman perhaps possessed by a demon.

Trask is in a wretched state at the story's start. He finds himself in the idyllic town of Leapville, Massachusetts, his primary concern nothing more lofty than finding the next meal. Trasks' clothes are ragged, his cupboard bare and his future dim. His primary source of income is begging alms for the poor, money that goes directly into his own pockets. When he learns of the possible possession of Penny Bascomb, the daughter of a local farmer, he offers to help the family in hopes of scamming some money and a meal from them.

The real villain of the tale remains purposely ambiguous for much of the story. Penny's behavior, as described by her family, sounds like nothing more than youthful rebellion. Kids really don't need help from Satan to sass their parents. Naturally, Trask doesn't really care either way, as long as the ends justify the means.

The exorcism occupies the bulk of the story, as Trask and Penny spar primarily over the reverend's own shortcomings. I don't want to spoil any moments of the conflict but, in the end, any real devils that hell might offer up are no competition for Trask's own metaphorical demons.

Lacy, who wrote and performs "Trask the Exorcist," provides the answer to at least one mystery about the not-so-good reverend. His full name is Orville Villarous Trask, named for his maternal grandfather. Trask avoids the use of his full name for fear someone might connect him to his late relative, who was hanged for stealing horses. Orville the Elder got off pretty light, considering was awaited his descendants. 

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