01/06/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Big Finish. 100 minutes with extras 2 CDs. Price: CD: £14.99 (UK), download: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-449-8)cast: Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Matt Addis, Luis Soto, Sean Connolly, Tam Williams, Gemma Wardle and Ian Brooker.
check out web site www.BigFinish.com
With a title, 'Point Of Entry', that sounds like an accountant's bit of bookkeeping, this play starts with a relatively low profile. One of the lost stories, this was little more than a page and a half of A4 before the new scriptwriter Marc Platt took over from the original writer, Barbara Clegg.
Despite this origin, the audio is a riot of colour, history, gore and mash-up of Elizabethan spies, obsession with death, intrigue, culture clashes and a little bit of alien invasion.
There is little to herald the smorgasbord of talent that leaps onto the virtual stage. The Doctor and Peri are aboard the TARDIS when it is sent hurtling to an unknown destination by a rogue asteroid. They arrive in the smelly, fetid soup of Elizabethan England and if there in any doubt they are meant to be there, it is soon quelled when the sky screams.
Venturing out from the Bell Inn, with Peri in appropriate period costume, the pair make their way though the streets, assailed by the sights and smells of London and its cruelty. They rescue a poor madman from the stocks and realise with horror that someone has cut off his tongue.
Returning to the inn, the Doctor is thrilled to meet playwright Kit Marlow but they disagree about his methods of researching his latest play, 'Faustus'. Leaving Peri with Kit's friend, Tom, the Doctor races to find the spymaster Frances Walsingham in the Tower of London to warn him about something worse than a Catholic plot.
Marlowe is in thrall to Velez, a mysterious Spaniard who might be the Devil himself for he seems able to cheat death. Kit wants inspiration, Velez is offering him the world but the price is very high. As the two-pronged plot leads the Doctor and Peri in different directions, it seems that the Spaniard Velez is getting help from an other-worldly source and they want entry into this one.
Marc Platt has willingly and cheerfully plundered the past and has constructed his own version of just how Marlow came up with his amazing flights of imagination in the play 'Dr Faustus'. This is a grand affair indeed with amazing word pictures summoned as if by sorcery. It would have been sad to have lost this story. I can't imagine it getting such a rich treatment if it had been made in the cash-strapped 1980s. The script is unlikely to have been as literate as this. There is plenty for everyone here, some comedy, despair and a little torture. The funny moments include Peri's opportunity to shine as a rather regal actress and the Doctor on the rack. Indeed, it is good that Peri is given plenty to do here and she has an equal part to play in this adventure.
Although not a straight-forward historical adventure, this play utilises the alien intruders in a minimal and precise way. The rousing final act sees the Doctor use all his available resources in an all bells and whistles finish.
It made me sit back and think how much I took for granted in this audios. I take it for granted the music will be appropriate and original. I take it for granted the special audio effects will enhance the production and I take it for granted that the actors will put their hearts into the performance. It's a lot to assume but I am rarely brought back to reality by any jarring notes or performers. The stories may not always stack up but there is no doubting the hard work and thought that goes into these productions. I am always entertained and often impressed by the plays. This is one that grows on you with each repeat and all of the audios are always good for repeat listening.
There are the usual extras which help explain the origin of the original story and how it was progressed to this version. All are agreed that it would not have received such an elaborate treatment as this in the original 'Doctor Who'. It is more suited to the high-end budget of the re-worked TV Doctor, having something in common with the Shakespeare episode in Series 3. This is wittier and enthrals for two hours and that gives lots of time to develop the story and the characters without having to rush off. Great fun and a great addition to the 'found' stories.
Add SFcrowsnest.com daily news updates to your own web site or blog - just cut and paste the code below...
Stephen Hunt's novels - USA