Between planet-hopping, facing threats both alien and domestic and flirting with everything else, you have to wonder where Captain Jack found time to do the personnel paperwork for Torchwood Cardiff – and given the rate of staff turnover there must have been quite a considerable amount!
In an appropriate echo of Everything Changes, Before The Fall follows a new person joining the team – Rachel Allen may be a far cry from Gwen’s confident police woman of action, but that doesn’t mean the biggest challenges will be whether to sink a colleague’s stapler in jelly or steal it, even if it is a red Swingline…
Over the three episodes by Joseph Lidster, Jenny T Colgan and Matt Fitton, the London Torchwood office will
endure experience such challenges as client meetings (careful of drinks now!), team politics, offsite team building and office parties – would a Sontaran attack be a relief?
In a story like this, the writing is absolutely crucial and the three authors knock it out of the park here – by turns (and sometimes simultaneously) funny, thrilling and shocking it never loses cohesiveness and flows continually between the three episodes. Despite a sizeable cast of characters none feel neglected but it doesn’t feel overcrowded with a naturalism to the scenes that reflects how even large offices have their own sub-groups and interactions.
The quality also shows in the relish the players take with the material – Sophie Winkleman is brilliant throughout, and Tracy-Ann Oberman and Gareth David-Lloyd (who appeared together in the underseen internet thriller Girl Number 9 by James Moran) bring a lovely chemistry to Yvonne and Ianto that would be great to explore further. That’s not to understate the value of the other roles and there are no weak links, it’s enough to make you swing your pants at times!
Barnaby Edwards directs proceedings with a deft touch to keep events clear even when the twists and pace are at their peak, and the sound design by Martin Montague is superb at bringing an impressive variety of environments to life as well as some inventive ickiness where appropriate. The music by Blair Mowat and Steve Wright completes the atmosphere and fits in neatly with both the cues that have reflected Yvonne before as well as those for Torchwood as a whole.
Torchwood One: Before The Fall adds depth to both Yvonne Hartman and the London Torchwood in the time before we see it in Army of Ghosts. A brilliantly skewed view of office politics as well as a great twisty thriller, it provides a great jumping on point for new listeners and opens new opportunities for further Torchwood tales as well – more please!
Torchwood One: Before The Fall is available now from BigFinish.com