THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
AUDIO DRAMAS "A
SHARD OF ICE" AND
'DEMON QUEST: STARFALL' AUDIO CD
RELEASED IN DECEMBER
TWO THINGS LAND IN
CENTRAL PARK, 1976.
ONE OF THEM IS THE
TARDIS. THE OTHER
IS A FIREBALL FROM
SPACE - BRINGING A
NEW IDENTITY FOR
After the frosty environs of A Shard of Ice, the Doctor’s Demon Quest is warmed by the heat of x-ray eyes in the saga’s fantastic fourth instalment, Starfall. A lively lampoon of superhero comic books, this decidedly playful yarn sees a meteorite crash in 1970s Central Park, where it imbues fretful literary secretary Alice Trefusis with incredible powers. With the help of her Pretzel-selling boyfriend and a Doctor from outer space, ‘Miss Starfall’ must pit her newfound abilities against a demon in washed-up movie star form and a mystifying cult that can’t decide whether it belongs to The Masque of Mandragora or The Sopranos.
The story is narrated almost exclusively by Miss Starfall’s feller, Buddy, who, as luck would have it, just happens to be a comic book devotee and aspirant author. Trevor White’s emb-roidered American drawl sets this release apart from most that usually carry Paul Magrs’ name – those looking for elaborate, enthralling prose will no doubt be horrified to hear the adventure being relayed through a brash, but perfectly-measured, New York dialect. For me though, Buddy’s blunt narration couldn’t have set the scene any better; it drew me right into the heart of New York and held me there, spellbound. And besides, there are still plenty of traditional Magrstian delights to be found here, be they in the Doctor’s exuberant dialogue
or Mrs Wibbsey’s mirthful musings.
What stands out about this production
most of all though is the balance that
it achieves between talking book and
play. There are so many characters
and voices at work here that one gets
the same sense of vigour and wealth
that generally comes with a full-cast
audio drama, yet Buddy’s first-person
recounting allows Magrs to describe
dynamic set pieces that it would be
impossible to satisfactorily convey through traditional dialogue. With superheroes whizzing
about in the clouds and old “Talkies” stars morphing into red-eyed monsters, Starfall really needs its narration.
Indeed, this episode has an energy to it that’s
almost radioactive. Laurel Lefkow’s Alice and
Trevor White’s Buddy are a marvellous addition
to the regular ensemble, which is presented at
its full strength for the first time here: the Doctor,
Mike Yates and Mrs Wibbsey. Each character
has much to do – Richard Franklin’s Yates is
every bit the suave hero, tying up baddies with
scarves as he winks at the ladies, while Susan
Jameson’s Mrs Wibbsey meets her match in
Lorelei King’s geriatric femme fatale who is almost as crabby as she is. Even Tom Baker’s Doctor is on dazzling form – not one to let a little thing like Time Lord Kryptonite stop him, it is he who finally gets the demon to drop her guise, tricking her into revealing her deceit through references to a dalliance that any Doctor Who follower knows could never have been. I get the impression that every member of the cast loved this fun-filled frolic as much as I do, because each of their performances sparkles.
Fast, furious and incredibly funny, Starfall is going to prove a difficult production to beat - but then there’s not long left for Magrs and Baker to do it. Grit your teeth, Wibbs - the hunt is on, and the game’s afoot…
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2011
E.G. Wolverson 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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