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Tuesday, 24 February 2015 - Reviewed by Andrew Batty

Starborn
Written by Jacqueline Rayner
Directed by Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions, released March 2014
After an uneventful trip to twentieth century Earth, Vicki finds herself locked out of the TARDIS and cornered by Violet, a self-proclaimed psychic. Agreeing to take part in a séance, Vicki is shocked to receive a message from a very familiar person: herself from the future. The message is very simple, if Vicki leaves this time, she will die. And future-Vicki should know, after all, she’s already dead...

Like many of the best Companion Chronicles, Starborn has an intriguingly clever and tricksy narrative, with an inventive twist to the way it is narrated. By having the main tale told from the perspective of future-Vicki the story keeps the listener guessing, and trying to work out the solution to the puzzle of her apparent demise. The solution to the mystery is hinted at in the dialogue throughout the play: eagle-eared listeners will pick up elements in future-Vicki’s story that seem out of place, which pay off later in the story.

The tale future-Vicki weaves is evocative and full of strong imagery. Like the early Hartnell stories, Starborn delights in world building and exploring strange settings and civilisations, in a way which is evocative of stories like The Keys of Marinus and The Web Planet.

Given that he central story is told by an apparently dead Vicki, themes of mortality and sacrifice are central. It is one of the few stories to address Vicki’s status as an orphan, with the séance evoking memories of her parents. If anything it feels like this side of Vicki’s character could have been explored further in the play, and it would certainly be worth returning to in any future iteration of The Companion Chronicles.

Overall Starborn is another strong Companion Chronicle, which makes use of clever narrative devices and ends with a satisfying solution to its central mystery. It is easily Jacqueline Rayner’s best contribution to the range, and shows a clear understanding and love of the era it recreates.