But how can you win when you don’t know the rules?
This isn’t your normal Companion Chronicle. The range started as a way to explore past tales with the companion giving their spin on events. But the range has been going for a while; its grown in experience and confidence and now its playing with the format. This Chronicle dumps the normal format and instead goes for a 2 person play. And it works perfectly. The doctor, while part of the story in a fashion, is sidelined from the start. Trapped as a ventriloquist’s dummy his role in the tale is minimal. Instead rather than narrate how the Doctor saved the day we instead see Charlie battle against the villain of the piece – The powerful and scheming Toymaker.
David Bailie is perfectly cast as the Toymaker. He was good in the previous Missing Adventure but hampered by that limited material. Here the script s far better. Its a more tighter and better thought out story and the setting, entirely within the shop, allows for a claustrophobic encounter between the two.
There is no need for actors to mimic the voices of others ( the normal weakness of the format). On the rare occasion the Doctor is heard it is through Charlies voice anyways as she operates the doll. Instead both actors tear into the material with gusto.
India Fisher more than holds her own against Bailie. Both are clearly having fun and both throw themselves into the story. Never once hamming it up or diminishing the material by playing it as anything other than deadly serious. The danger off the situation is felt throughout; even as the story twists and turns and roles are questioned.
Its a satisfying ending as well. Obvious in hindsight but it caught me unaware. Its been another strong month for Big Finish. They keep raising the bar but they also just keep jumping higher.