Beauty. What constitutes the concept of beauty? Is it the quality of the looks that defines beauty or the character of the person in question? This story would purport that it is almost both as an audio story you make up the looks as this is a story told about two warring races over how one race polluted a planet into becoming an ugly place to live and now many years on from the disaster experiments are going on to try and place everything back to normal. Nicholas Briggs here has placed his heart and soul into this story as he comments on issues present still today in society. This story has environmental themes about just how great the world was and while we can never get it to the way it was. It’s essentially a story advising against the idea that we have to live in a perfect world. By the end of the story the Doctor and Nyssa really haven’t been able to do anything to change the situation on the planet in question. Their actions are futile as those in power are too stubborn to change their ways. The commentary hits close to home as in today’s society with the internet the idea is that I’m always right and anything that doesn’t fit in with my view of the world is wrong and offensive. I don’t know how intentional this was on the part of Briggs who has control of the entire production here which makes it shine like a beautiful diamond. He tells the story by having four episodes without cliffhangers that don’t reveal the story in linear order as to fit in with the idea of aversion to change. You see the thought process as the narrative has to be pieced together from threads which illustrate this type of mindset brilliantly.
A story like this hinges on the performances presented and the atmosphere they generate and I have many props to give to people. First Sarah Sutton has to play Nyssa who is put through the wringer in this story as she is arrested and tortured for being beautiful. Her performance comes off very hypnotic as does every other performance in this story as Sutton gives this sort of air around her delivery that just makes you feel like the energy from your body is sucked out which is good as that’s the atmosphere this story needed. The same can be said for Peter Davison as the Doctor as he is forced into scientific experiments and almost commits a murder. The villains of this story are also very emotionally draining in just how good they are as everything starts to fall apart with Jemma Churchill’s Florian just sticking in my mind at the end of the story as she looks like she is listening to the Doctor, but she isn’t and stays static.
To summarize, Creatures of Beauty is a brilliant audio drama with social commentary that remains relevant today about how we should be open to change and adapt to the ever changing world. Nicholas Briggs is a powerhouse here as the unique way of storytelling allows the performances to shine through the story with some brilliant music and a really simple plot that is intriguing nevertheless as we have to really pay attention to what the message of the story is. The actors are on point and the sad part is people do not appreciate this one nearly enough so if you haven’t heard this one in a while give it another chance. 100/100