The Vault, UNIT’s secret archive of alien artefacts, securely stored deep beneath the Angel of the North. But it’s not just confiscated kit that lies inside. Hidden in the dark is an extraterrestrial know only as “The Master”. He’s been on Earth for some time but now he’s under lock and key. This is his story. Or, as Captain Ruth Matheson and Warrant Officer Charlie Sato discover… perhaps it is theirs.
Starting series 8 of the Companion Chronicles we have an unusual twist on the normal format as, for the first time, the star of the show is also its villain. But then the Master is no ordinary villain. As this is the Beevers Master he’s a bit worse for wear: critically injured he is dependent on UNIT’s life support to keep his withered body alive. Separated from his TARDIS he’s been trapped on Earth for a long time, unable to escape and reduced to a life of crime.
It’s nice to finally see a companion chronicle focus on a villain. Jonathan Morris has the tricky task of making the Master sympathetic but in a way that does not declaw the monster. I think he succeeds and the result is a story that really lets Geoffrey Beevers throw himself into his take on the errant Time Lord. It never gets hammed up and the Master gets to play a wider range of emotions than normal.
Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso, who both co-starred in the 90’s TV movie, play two UNIT staff members sent in to negotiate with the Master. They want to trade the Masters assistance, as a scientific advisor, for rewards to make his imprisonment more bearable. The pair work well together and they provide two very different characters, each of which gets to interact individually with the Master. The dynamic works well and I hope we see the pair of them in more Big Finish stories.
The tale allows a much longer timescale than we normally get for the Master and it shows him living on Earth for several decades. The changes in time provide different opportunities for the Master but they also allow the story to explore different places and times.
It’s a very enjoyable play and, as something a bit different, it is highly recommended.
Written By: Jonathan Morris
Directed By: Ken Bentley
Geoffrey Beevers (The Master), Daphne Ashbrook (Ruth Matheson), Yee Jee Tso (Charlie Sato)