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Doctor Who Companion Chronicles: The Darkening Eye by Stewart Sheargold

01/04/2009. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who Companion Chronicles The Darkening Eye in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who Companion Chronicles The Darkening Eye in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 1 CD 60 minutes. Price: CD: 8.99 (UK), download: 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-355-2. Cast: Sarah Sutton and Derek Carlyle.

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It is time for Nyssa to tell her story. She has travelled a long time as a companion, been shot at, abandoned and afraid, never had a voice until now and she will be heard.

Now that she has finally left the Doctor, Nyssa has to plot out a new role. Aboard the spaceship Terminus, she finds a patient dying of an incurable disease and offers him hope but first she must tell him her story.

Her tale is a dark and strange one, of her brushes with death and of the mysterious travelling people who are the Dar Traders.

The Doctor, Nyssa, the tedious Tegan with adenoidal Adric find a space wreck where they meet the Dar Traders who are looking for 'salvage'. This race with advanced technology is able to throw a life support around the spaceship which is open to the vacuum of space.

Nyssa takes charge when she and the companions are separated from the Doctor. She submits to painful testing by the Dar Traders who believe she is dead and can 'trade' with them. They are the collectors of death, first heard of in the audio adventure, 'The Death Collectors', from last year featuring the Seventh Doctor.

Nyssa finds herself in a position of power when the Dar realise she is the last of the Traaken race. She insists that the Dar leave her friends alone. The Dar show Nyssa an item of salvage that they want to investigate. It's a cabinet made of dwarf star alloy and once it's open, leads Nyssa closer to the death foreseen by the Dar.

This is a complex story told almost single-handedly by Sarah Sutton as the usually meek and mild Nyssa. Derek Carlyle plays both the patient and the Dar Trader, who is a more breathy Darth Vader. Oh right, I get it now. I am little slow sometimes. Occasionally Sutton's voice range can become too stuck in one place leading to flat passages but, overall, the story is a good one with many visual images to work with.

There are actually seven minutes of extras with this that added to my understanding and enjoyment of the 'Companion Chronicles' featuring Sarah Sutton, Derek Carlyle and the director Ken Bentley. This is now a regular series and as a narrated story offers a different experience of audio from shouting and jumping around in the plays. It is much harder to carry the plot alone and, over the last year, each adventure has highlighted this. In such a demanding role you need the erstwhile companion to hold their own against the overwhelming wash of the story. It's a good effort but I defy anyone to understand the whole thing the first time round. It's a good job you can just play it over and over again.

Sue Davies

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