THIS EPISODE TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVEL "THE DYING
DAYS" AND THE COMIC
BIG FINISH CD#123
RELEASED IN JULY 2009.
Switzerland, 1816: at
the Villa Diodati,
Lord Byron's house
guests tell each
other tales to curdle
the blood and quicken
the beatings of the
heart. With a
monster on the loose
outside, young Mary
Shelley isn't short of
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
Copyright © Daniel Tessier 2009
Daniel Tessier has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
For ten years, Big Finish Productions have produced Doctor Who and Bernice Summerfield audio plays, and for most of this time they have steered clear of using companions and storylines from other publisher’s ranges. Here, however, The Company
of Friends sees the eighth Doctor (enjoying his first release in the monthly series since 2007’s Girl Who Never Was) teamed up with four different companions from each of his main ranges for an episode each. We have one who started off in the New Adventures
and who played a pivotal role in Big Finish’s humble beginnings; one from the Doctor Who Magazine comic-strips; some scruffy git from BBC Books’ eighth Doctor adventures; and
an author who’s often been mentioned ever since Storm Warning. That’s right - I mean Bernice Summerfield, Izzy Sinclair, Fitz Kreiner, and Mary Shelley!
The Company of Friends concludes with an episode featuring a ‘companion’ who’s been mentioned in passing as far back as the eighth Doctor’s first Big Finish scene and as recently as this year’s Beast of Orlok - the author herself, Mary Shelley. In this Jonathan Morris-penned episode, we are made guests of the Villa Diodati in 1816 Switzerland
where Mary, her husband Percy, Lord Byron, John Polidori and Claire Claremont (Mary’s step-sister) are each writing their own ghost stories until they are interrupted by a man who claims that his name is Doctor Frankenstein......
Unlike the first three episodes, Mary’s Story chronicles Mary’s first encounter with the
Doctor (rather than being a ‘missing adventure’ as it were). And it has to be said, particularly given that it’s her inaugural adventure, Mary absolutely dominates this episode; Julie Cox’s portrayal is nothing short of magnificent. What’s more, Mary’s dialogue beautifully conveys Morris’ skill with words; her description of the TARDIS console room is as perfect a summation as you’ll ever get.
More than any of the previous stories though, this one really rotates around the companion, with the Doctor taking something of a back seat for chunks of the play. That said, we are treated to a meeting between two eighth Doctors – a pre-Storm Warning one, who is travelling with Samson and Gemma; and an older one, who has knowledge of companions like Destrii, Trix, Compassion, Anji, not to mention Charley and Lucie. On his way to the Time War, I reckon…
The supporting cast are impressive too. Anthony Glennon delivers a great performance as the adulterous Percy Shelley, Robert Forknall’s Lord Byron is downright superb, as is Katarina Cooke’s Claire. Ian Hallard gives a fantastic portrayal of Polidori too, especially when wanting to bring a “monster” to life!
The Verdict? Mary’s Story is a dark and wonderful tale which helps round off The Company of Friends in real style. Filled with references to Frankenstein and the Doctor’s murky future, this episode is definitely a winner for me.
And so ends The Company of Friends, a release that ranks right up there with Circular Time, 100, Forty-Five and indeed some of Big Finish’s finest one-part stories. Full of humour, horror and a truck load of references that you won’t hear anywhere else, The Company of Friends is a wonderful way to celebrate the tenth birthday of the Big Finish’s monthly range! Here’s to ten more years of Big Finish Doctor Who Productions!
Copyright © Kory Stephens 2009
Kory Stephens has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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