Short Trips - A Full Life (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 12 October 2016 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
A Full Life (Credit: Big Finish / Anthony Lamb)

Producer Ian Atkins. Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and
Nicholas Briggs
Written By: Joseph Lidster. Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Cast - Matthew Waterhouse (Narrator)

AFullLife is an interesting, and very thought provoking listen. It is essentially a ‘what if’ sort of story that veers off after a known ‘event’ into a parallel universe, that in the end, finds Adric an old man with grandchildren.
 
Written by Joseph Lidster, and narrated by Matthew Waterhouse, it starts quite jarringly with someone flicking backwards and forwards on a tape player, the sound of the clicking and fast forwarding ringing loud in your ear. An older Adric is relaying the action, which for very obvious reasons grabs the listener's attention from the start. What the older Adric is disclosing is essentially the story of Adric’s life, starting of course on Alzareus with the loss of his parents, then mist-fall, and the the Marshmen, and  later of course the tragic death of his brother Vash. We follow as Adric then stows away on the TARDIS (so far, still so familiar), and of finding himself on a planet where vampires are real. As his adventures progress we hear about Adric slowly forming a meaningful relationship with the Doctor and Romana, a feeling that he actually belonged somewhere once again. It’s not only quite nostalgic that the story mentions moments that we have seen, but also very interesting the mentions of adventures between those that we know. How the Doctor, Romana K9 and Adric have become a force to be reckoned with for the monsters and megalomaniacs of E-Space, whilst all the time hunting for the elusive CVE that would take The Doctor and Romana back to their own universe.
 
Suddenly, and rather jarringly there is a mention of the planet Veridis, and the tape is abruptly wound backwards for the first time. We rejoin the narration when the TARDIS first lands on Veridis, our trio (K9 is left in the TARDIS because of the rain) soon manage to thwart a young girls murder, and stumble upon a rather horrific secret.
 
A Full Life is about death as much as it is life, probably more so in fact. Oh - and resurrection, there is a lot of resurrection. I couldn't help but grin when I heard a classic reference to Frankenstein (and, of course the Paul McGann TV movie). The story asks the age old question of - if we could bring a loved one back from the dead, who would it be? And then where would we stop after that, who else would we bring back? What if we didn't have to stop? It also asks that once a power and responsibility of bringing the dead to life is removed - what is next? How does a world acclimatise to suddenly having to lose their loved ones for real?
 
For a seemingly unassuming forty five minute audio, A Full Life packs a real emotional punch, and when the skew in the established timeline happens (and believe me - it's a doozy!) the listener discovers what consequences this has to Adric. What would happen if he were allowed to live on Veridis, to fall in love and build a family. Oh – and there is even a clever cliff-hanger in there, where the tape that we are listening to ends and needs to be 'turned over'. You can hear the listener trying to clumsily ram the cassette back into the player as quickly as he can, and then fumble the buttons before the story resumes - something that is perfectly simple, yet very effective.
 
My only slight gripe with this release is the actual narration. I need to say that I am not an Adric 'hater'. When he was introduced to Who back in the day he was a very similar age to what I was at the time, meaning that I felt a real connection with the character. I'd go so far as to say I still find him endearing to this day. He was from a period of time when the TARDIS was a busy place, a time I REALLY enjoyed. Plus of course he was one of the few companions to be killed off. The thought of that crumbled gold star for mathematical excellence, on a black backdrop, while the credits roll silently still makes me feel misty eyed right now. Well I might be exaggerating a bit. A lot. Probably. Anyway, the narration. i felt that Matthew Waterhouse threw himself into some of the reading a little too much. Sometimes sounding a little desperate. This was only occasionally, and when it happened, it was mostly when he was trying to voice either the Doctor or Romana. Let me stress though that this is a very minor moan. It did nothing to quell my enjoyment of the story.
 
A Full Life is the first of the Short Trips that i have listened to. I'd definitely be back again. A Full Life is available from Big Finish.