Thursday, April 14, 2016

Neverland by: Alan Barnes directed by: Gary Russell: Adventures of an Edwardian Adventuress Part Three

WARNING: This review contains major spoilers for the audio Neverland.  Continue at your own risk.


Neverland stars Paul McGann as the Doctor with Lalla Ward as President Romana, Don Warrington as Rassilon and India Fisher as Charley.  It was written by Alan Barnes, directed by Gary Russell and released in July 2002 by Big Finish Productions.


This is the culmination of the entire story arc involving Charley Pollard and the tearing Web of Time.  The plot sees the Time Lords catch up to the Doctor with Romana and the High Council wishing to use Charley to open a breach into anti-time so they can go through it and get the Web of Time stitched up and rescue a certain Lord Rassilon who explored there and died.  There isn’t just Rassilon in the universe of anti-time where a conspiracy is uncovered where to every person ever sent to be dispersed on Gallifrey has become a being of anti-time which goes further when it is revealed that as they have never really existed, no one remembers that they were dispersed once the dispersal actually takes place.


This allows us to really see into Romana’s mind as she has unwittingly been the cause of over 200 deaths over the course of her Presidency.  Romana is brilliantly played by Lalla Ward who gives every line powerful emotion.  She is the only one speaking sensibly to the Doctor as he was her mentor even though he has broken many Time Lord Laws.  When she realizes that Vansell has gone behind her back to see her Presidency undone and what she did to all those people she has an almost subdued fit of pure rage and sorrow as there is nothing she can do to save them.  She gets some of her best lines near the end of the play when she gets to talk with Rassilon who is there to be mysterious, but tells her that even though this adventure is over there is something coming in the future that she has to be wary of for it will be there soon.  Add this to the cliffhanger that anti-time has infected the Doctor who has become the embodiment of Zagreus and you get some great set up for the 40th anniversary celebration.


Paul McGann as the Doctor is really at his most emotional and romantic.  His reaction to the Time Lords coming to find him is to try and hide Charley away at an eternal party so he can sort it out and get everything to the status quo.  His emotion escalates as everything leads to the idea that he is going to have to shoot Charley in the head to repair the damage.  This makes it all the more satisfying when he professes his love to her and actually finds a way to save her by materializing the TARDIS around the breach to close it.  He and Lalla Ward share a scene of a possible future which is just haunting in how foreboding it is with Romana basically turning into a dictator and bringing about a conquest of the universe which I could see happening.  This is by far McGann’s best performance yet as the Doctor, due in no small part to just how well Alan Barnes understands who this Doctor is as the breathless romantic.  Barnes’ script makes his travelling be so tantalizing to go to, but still makes you almost want Charley to go to this party just to see how good it would have been.


India Fisher as Charley serves as the emotional centerpiece for this story which allows Fisher to show just how much acting skill she has in her which works for the best.  She loves travelling with the Doctor and from the beginning of the story, Charley knows that escaping the R101 in Storm Warning was wrong and is ready to face the piper.  She even tells the Doctor to shoot her as it seems to be the only way to save everything.  She also stays upbeat throughout as when she sends the TARDIS into the hands of the Time Lords she gets tied up but still refuses to be treated like she has lesser intelligence.  She still cares about those Time Lords when they get infected with anti-time in Part Two.  Fisher also voices the main villain of this story Sentris who took Charley’s form so she could feed off our universe.  Sentris has the character range of being sympathetic one minute, but totally evil the next.  She is the one who voices everyone’s feelings just to toy with them and her eventual defeat


This story also sees the true introduction of Don Warrington’s incarnation of Rassilon who really doesn’t get much to do except be pretty much the watchful god which makes for the best as he pretty much is a god.  He is the one to point out the fallacy that he never went to the anti-time universe and couldn’t be trapped there as he is still in the Death Zone on Gallifrey.  Anthony Keetch’s Vansell also has his magnum opus here as he becomes a power hungry villain who wants to become Rassilon’s right hand man.  The rest of the supporting cast all is either anti time beings or is infected by anti-time which is very emotional for this as you see people destroyed by the universe.


To summarize, Neverland is another perfect story which sees the emotional catharsis of the Doctor and Charley in such a good story with a great cliffhanger to lead into Zagreus. 100/100

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