Monday, March 31, 2014

Inglorious Benny: Bernice Summerfield - Just War Review

The Time Ring Trilogy concludes with Just War, which like Birthright was adapted for audio from the Doctor Who novel of the same name.

As was the case with both Birthright and Walking to Babylon, the adaptation of Lance Parkin's debututant story, Just War, has some minor changes that set it apart from the novel. Whilst Benny's parts - including the torture scenes - remain intact, Roz Forrester’s subplot is excluded and most of the Doctor and Chris Cwej's roles are shared by Jason Kane.

However this play, just like the original, is set in Wartime Guernsey, where the eponymous Time Ring has deposited Bernice following the explosive events of Birthright. This release constantly barrages the listener with an arsenal of genuine historical facts, and though these are just as startling as any plot twists seen on Doctor Who, they are just the starting point for a production which really strives for dramatic realism as opposed to sensation and melo-drama.

Lisa Bowerman is very low-key here, though this was to be expected as the tale demands that she remain broken and emotionally scarred. Bowerman’s skill lies in finding shades within this emotional state; a great achievement. As for Stephen Fewell's Jason, this is the character's finest hour as he finally gets some more rewarding interplay with Bowerman. Fewell really uses the chance to articulate both Jason's strength and his vulnerability here. Maggie Stables (the future Evelyn Smythe, of sixth Doctor fame) as Ma Doras provides a warm, well-rounded performance in the early scenes that contrasts well with the horrific turn events later take. Mark Gatiss and Nicky Goldie as Wollf and Kitzel along with Michael Wade's chillingly persuasive Steinmann make for a great cliché-free ensemble, communicating the horrors of Nazism without simplifying or glamorising its nature. Their restraint and simplicity is first-rate.

And here ends the Time Ring Trilogy. Just War is indeed a powerful and emotional journey for both Benny and Jason; we can easily say that all three stories are a definitive perfect ten. The same goes for the CD freebie that came with it, too.

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