Widespread illness swept the country, people feared for their lives, but meanwhile, those who could afford to do so, hid out in a secret bunker in this 10-minute, abridged retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH.
We hear the haughtiness that exudes from royalty and the wealthy as they hide away from the red death, otherwise known as the plague. To keep themselves busy, they host a masquerade for all of the hideouts to attend—which is later described as “disgusting” by our hearty-voiced narrator.
This same narrator begins the tale by describing in detail the haunting ways the plague ravages a body—“Its victims experienced sharp pains and then a sudden dizziness, then profuse bleeding from the pores, ending in certain death.” Later, to further cement us in the scene, he takes us through each room of the bunker and describes the colors, decor, and purposes of each.
Whether it is from the screams of bunker guests or minute, chilling moment-by-moment scene shifts, we are made to feel as though we are sharing the same horrors as the characters coming through our speakers.
It is clear, to this reviewer, that our storytellers want us to be just as frightened as the bunker guests when the embodiment of the red death appears, without notice, inside the closed-off hideout. Once inside the plague did what all diseases do—meaning that no one, not even the rich or royal, were saved from the fate that met many others during that period of time.
For those who are inspired by themes and lessons from years ago, THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH may be right up your alley.
Frank Zilinyi, R.Patrick Alberty, Alejandro Cardozo, Caitlin Boyle, Sarah Gwynne Walker
Dan Bianchi (director/story adapter/sound), Wes Shippee (sound design/tech director)
RadioTheatre poster image courtesy of RadioTheatre NYC; all other images public domain
About the Author:
Margaret Smith is a writer, editor, and critic achieving her B.A. from Columbia College Chicago. Having migrated from small-town Illinois, she now dwells in Chicago with a curious eye for art and a penchant for commentary. When not putting pen to paper, you might catch her about the city sipping coffee and filling in crossword puzzles.