Written by Matthew J Elliott
Directed by Ken Bentley
Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Andrew Hall (Alonso/Gonzalo), Lucy Briggs-Owen (Miranda), Rachel Atkins (Juno), Ewan Goddard (Talpa), Aaron Neil (Stephano/Klossi/Trink/Setebos)
Big Finish Productions – Released September 2016
“We are such stuff as dreams are made on…”
The Tempest Act IV Scene I, William Shakespeare
This is a rather curious story which opens with the conclusion of a story set during the Doctor and Mel’s pre-Dragonfire adventures as they are thanked for brokering peace between the crew of the Duke of Milan and the inhabitants of the planet Prosper known as the Mogera. Fast forward a hundred years and the Doctor, Ace and Mel arrive to find something has gone badly wrong on Prosper which is still very much at the centre of a conflict of between the ‘Milanese’, descendants of the original Duke of Milan crew and the Mogera, the supposedly peace-loving inhabitants. The Doctor is horrified to discover that the conflict is a direct result of his own earlier interference and that he is the eponymous Maker of Demons.
Only a singularly unobservant individual would fail to notice that this story draws a large amount of reference to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, particularly with liberal use of character names such as Alonso and Miranda and even numerous quotes and paraphrases. This reviewer’s favourite coming towards the conclusion of the play when the Doctor advises the villain of the piece “your revels now are ended.” Writer Matthew J Elliott doesn’t get huge points for originality but spotting these references added to this reviewer’s enjoyment. One minus point near the beginning of the play came with a distinctly overwritten gag about Frank Sinatra. It seems rather brave of both the writer and Big Finish to include an interview in the extras in which Elliott admits that the story underwent a fairly drastic rewrite. However, the finished product proves to be a worthwhile listen albeit one not exactly packed with surprises.
The reunited dream team of Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Bonnie Langford prove once more that they have great potential for further development. It is perhaps slightly unfortunate that Ace is on her own for a large section of this story even though it does provide her with some enjoyable scenes with Talpa, who rather like Caliban in The Tempest, is a beast with an occasional intelligent side, well portrayed by Ewan Goddard. Being on her own with the Doctor also provides Mel with an opportunity to show off her companion credentials however hopefully future adventures will have Ace and Mel working together.
The concluding act of this reunion trilogy is not quite the stuff that dreams are made of but nonetheless it is an enjoyable adventure. With no details yet announced regarding next year’s audio adventures for the Seventh Doctor we can only hope that these will see the continuing adventures of Ace and Mel and follow up on the loose ends from ALifeofCrime. In the meantime, next month sees the welcome return of the Fifth Doctor and Turlough in the now traditional annual anthology release TheMemoryBank.