Thursday, May 12, 2016

Scherzo by: Robert Shearman directed by: Gary Russell: Somewhere a Place for Us, Peace and Quiet and Open Air...

WARNING: As with all my reviews of Robert Shearman stories, this review of Scherzo contains major spoilers for a story that really needs to be experienced first so take my word for it and look this story up before reading on.


Scherzo stars Paul McGann as the Doctor with India Fisher as Charley.  It was written by Robert Shearman, directed by Gary Russell and released in December 2003 by Big Finish Productions.


A phrase coming to mind after listening to Scherzo is ‘I need an adult’ even if you are an adult.  The imagery that is brought to mind by this effort from Robert Shearman are just terrifying as this story features the Doctor and Charley dissecting a creature with a broach, eating said creature more than once, fusing together to form one supreme organism, a foil story about an arrogant king who demanded music disappear which it retaliated with murdering everyone in the kingdom and the vast white void of a ring that makes up this experiment.  This is the first story in the Divergent Universe where time just doesn’t exist which is played up brilliantly by Shearman who in this story has months and years passing in total silence as the Doctor and Charley don’t feel it happening around them.  Shearman is extremely clever with the title as many don’t know that a scherzo is a piece of music that is usually in a frantic tempo and gets across the idea that there is great danger and tragedy just around the corner which is perfect to describe this story.


This story picks up immediately after the end of Zagreus and gets off to a bang with the TARDIS breaking up and leaving the Doctor and Charley stranded in a corridor with a creature made of sound that is slowly evolving the more the Doctor and Charley make any sort of noise.  It doesn’t take long for the creature to get violent and as it doesn’t understand the concept of time as soon as it reaches maturity it wants to kill its parents, the Doctor and Charley.  On the surface it seems to be an extremely simple story but as it is Big Finish’s first two hander where there are only two actors present, Scherzo comes across as extremely emotional and character driven which wouldn’t work if the Doctor and Charley weren’t good characters.  I can gladly report that both Paul McGann and India Fisher are on top form here as they act their socks off to finish the character development started in Neverland and Zagreus.  The Doctor immediately becomes depressed here as he left the universe as a sacrifice to Charley which isn’t a sacrifice when she followed him into the Divergent Universe.  His depression increases and when he fuses with Charley he becomes extremely manic and tries to kill her.  McGann is having a blast with the part, but India Fisher steals the show as this story goes into Charley’s head and sees her able to let go of her romantic feelings for the Doctor.  It is because of the immense friendship they share that she is able to get the Doctor free of the sound creature once and for all.


Shearman is excellent at writing the characters in a different universe as with the several points of silence in the story where you can just hear the Doctor and Charley’s footsteps, there is this pervading sense of the unknown through every scene.  The listener knows that there is something out there in the whiteness, but nobody knows where it is, what it’s planning or even if it’s dangerous to our heroes.  It is simply the idea that something is coming that allows the terror to seep in and not just the rather disturbing imagery present in the story.  Gary Russell and the people at ERS should also be thanked for their direction, sound design and music as everything just feels lonely which is a great auditory representation of the loneliness and the troubles of the two characters who are exiled from the familiar and forced into the unknown which is a basic human fear.  The story acts as a catharsis for their emotions and it is the direction from Russell who gets this across as it is all done as subtext in a subtle manner where something like the new series would flat out say it which doesn’t work well in something like this.


To summarize, like a scherzo, Scherzo is a frantic sort of story that gets across the struggles of its characters and the ideas that this universe has it in for the Doctor and Charley like antibodies have it in for diseases.  Everything in this story fits perfectly together and much like Zagreus goes all out with the crazy ideas of the Divergent Universe.  100/100

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