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mystery in the air: The Marvellous Barastro (Radio Show)

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Mystery in the Air

(Old Radio Show)

The Marvellous Barastro

"The Marvellous Barastro" was written by Ben Hecht and the story opens to find the Marvellous Barastro walking into a lawyer's office and announcing that he will shortly be in need of his services because he plans to commit a murder that very night. Barastro has been hunting his intended victim, Rico Sansone, for a long time, from city to city and country to country, and has now caught up with him. Like Barastro, Sansone is a great magician and hypnotist and he is opening in his first stage performance in the city that very night. Barastro intends to be there waiting for him.

The perplexed lawyer is naturally surprised by Barastro's revelation and he asks him why he wants to kill Sansone. The magician is only to happy to explain his motive and it is as sad as it is surprising. Barastro tells the lawyer about his time travelling with a small carnival, through Eastern Europe, earning his living by casting horoscopes, reading the future and past and conversing with spirits. Then one night in a small village in Russia, Barastro met the love of his life; a beautiful blind girl named Anna.

Barastro courted Anna and when the carnival moved on she went with him as his wife, and for a while they were happy together, but then Rico Sansone came into their lives and from the very first moment that he did it was obvious that he too was captivated by the lovely Anna. At first Barastro was enraged and challenged Sansone, demanding an explanation as to why he was starring at Anna, but Sansone had only flattery to offer in return for Barastro's hard words and soon won him over.

Anna, however, disliked Sansone from the first moment she met him and warned her husband, "I don't like him Gregor, I feel something strange about him." Barastro failed to heed his wife's warning though, only to later discover that Sansone has learned to mimic his voice, and more surprisingly, his face as well.  Barastro was fortunate enough to receive a feeling warning him that something was wrong at home and managed to oust Sansone before any real harm was done, but Anna, who only had to contend with the fake voice, never really recovered from the shock and when Sansone returned it proved to be the death of her.

This is a great little story with a nice twist at the end and as far as I know it was written especially for Mystery in the Air. If there are other adaptations of the story, I have never found them, but it would be hard to improve on this one anyway and Peter Lorre's performance, as Barastro, is pretty damn good in my opinion. 

Click to Listen >> The Marvellous Barastro

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