A Torchwood historical that will entertain some, but not all fans of Torchwood.
1898. The “Queen of the British Empire and Empress of India” arrives at an island along with four other people to hold a séance. Thanks to new radio technology, a strange voice (that sounds like the then reigning monarch) makes contact with them. The voice then proceeds to tell them that four of them will die before the night is over…
Drawing heavily on Agatha Christie’s classic mystery And Then There Were None, the latest release in the Torchwood monthly series sees a return to the early days of Torchwood under its founder, Queen Victoria (played with distinction by Rowena Cooper once again). Like the previous outing (Fortitude), we see Victoria stranded on an island away from all her servants.
Scott Handcock, who usually directs the bulk of the monthly range, has taken the writer’s chair this time (leaving directing duties to the excellent Lisa Bowerman) and crafted a serviceable homage to the great mysteries of literature past. The script moves along nicely without feeling like there is too much padding but it is hard to feel connected to characters you barely know, making their deaths have less of an impact.
That is not to say that the cast are not great in their roles. Kingsley Amadi (Samuel Okonjo), Wayne Forester (Captain Henry), Gruffudd Glyn (Owain Pryce), and Gwyneth Keyworth (Florence) all do an outstanding job in their roles and help to imbue some life into their characters. A particular highlight is a scene where all the characters have a deep secret that is revealed to the group. It is a case-in-point of the ensemble working extremely effectively.
Steve Foxon’s sound design is also a particular highlight and a bonus interview with him shows the care he has taken to get the sounds as historically accurate as possible. Blair Mowat’s rejigging of the theme tune into a more “classical” version is also a nice touch that gives a little more weight to the historical aspect of this tale.
This particular release may not appeal to all Torchwood fans, who might prefer more aliens and guns blazing then a tense mystery involving Queen Victoria, but there is still much to recommend it to lovers of audio drama and, at a cheaper price to a regular release, it might be a great investment for hearing what Big Finish can do outside of the Doctor Who universe (sort of) if you are on a budget.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: July 2020
Approx RRP: $20 CD, $9 Digital Download