01/02/2012. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story. Price: CD: GBP14.99 (UK), Download: GBP12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-580-8). cast: Sylvester McCoy, Timothy West, Amy Pemberton, Miranda Keeling, Ray Emmet Brown, Howard Gossington and Lizzy Watts.
check out web site www.BigFinish.com
If you can cope with a first episode that does not have the Seventh Doctor in it ‘til the final minute then you can cope with the mystery of ‘The House Of Blue Fire’. It’s a peculiar start for a ‘Doctor Who’ monthly episode and I can only hope Sylvester McCoy is not paid by the word.
A girl arrives at the House of Blue Fire. She doesn’t know her name or why she is there. She meets the butler, Soames, who directs her to a room. She will be known as 18 (Amy Pemberton), the number of the room. Three others arrive, each with their allocated number. Number 5 (Miranda Keeling), Number 14 (Ray Emmet Brown) and Number 5 (Howard Gossington). Number 18 tries to find out from each one what this place is but nobody knows. The one thing they do have in common is phobias as each one is affected by a potentially fatal condition.
Soames (a well-cast Timothy West) remains mute on the matter only telling them what time dinner will be served and when the master of the house will arrive.
If the word ‘master’ makes you think of an old enemy then you are not alone. ‘House Of Blue Fire’ plays with perceptions and reality, building up a series of scenarios to work through. Even when the Doctor pitches up we are not sure what it’s all about.
There are some quite anxious moments here and an interesting enemy to finish off. Mark Morris has produced a well-constructed story which starts as the ‘old dark house’ but changes with each episode into something quite different. There are a whole lot of elements thrown in but nothing Sylvester McCoy can’t cope with. The supporting actors have quite distinctive voices which is pretty important in an audio.
With the Doctor travelling alone, he appears more alien than ever and does have the tendency to be rather aloof and mysterious for what may seem to be no apparent reason.
I like the shifting scenes and uncertainty. There is a huge amount of content that is squeezed into the four episodes. It was good to start to get to know the young people involved and try to work out the mystery before the arrival of the Doctor. It proves once again that you can put the Doctor into a range of situations and he will make a drama out of a crisis. The opening episode reminded me of an episode from the latest TV series, ‘The God Complex’, but this play develops quite different lines.
There is a lot going on here and the odd first episode in which the Doctor is mostly absent leaves us uncertain what to expect. The final minutes are writ large with the Doctor being gloriously epic and a surprising twist which might yet take us off on another tangent before the Seventh is done with this life.
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