There’s one moment in James Goss’ latest Doctor Who tale which is all the more horrifying because of the lack of reaction of the characters to what’s happening to them – something that you know is going to be the case from everything that has occurred up to that point, but which still sends a shiver down your spine when you hear it. After the adrenaline ride of Fallen Angels, and the humour of Judoon in Chains, this is a challenging story that you’ll almost certainly want to go back and listen to again quickly to see how cleverly Goss charts the journey of Zanzibar# (yes the hashtag is part of her name) from emotional sterility to involvement in her own life.
That’s just one facet of this powerful piece; there are numerous surprises – and, really, avoid spoilers for this perhaps more than any of the others in the set – with Sylvester McCoy and Nisha Nayar as Zanzibar# on top form. Jonathan Firth’s Cadwallader, Rebecca Callard’s Shadrak and Giles Watling’s Sycorax are thrown various curveballs by Goss to deliver, and do so with aplomb: Goss has a gift for creating characters that have hidden depths (even the shouty villains!) and director Barnaby Edwards guides performances that bring out the nuances. Martin Montague’s sound design brings the listener into the middle of the story, and ensures the regular “computer voice” doesn’t become more irritating to the listener than it is to the participants in the story!
Verdict: (Harvest of the) Sycorax rocks! 9/10
Click below for the reviews of the other stories in this set: