Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Of House And Kiloran: Bernice Summerfield - The Stone's Lament Review

After an average start to the season, Mike Tucker's tale The Stone's Lament brings Professor Bernice Summerfield to the planet Rhinvil, where reclusive billionaire Bratheen Traloor has invited her to examine a recently discovered artefact along with Killoran construction worker Adrian Wall (who first appeared in The Doomsday Manuscript).

Here's where things get confusing regarding this season. For those that never read Jacqueline Rayner's novel The Squire's Crystal, Benny's mind and body were taken over by an alien sorceress named Avril Fenmen and she (Avril, not Benny) slept with Adrian, who mentions this event in this story. If you aren’t familiar with The Squire's Crystal, you could easily get lost (The tie-ins novels, novellas and short story collections will be covered in a future date)

Lisa Bowerman's performance as Bernice is excellent here; she gets the balance between Benny's more sarcastic and determined sides perfectly but also shows how uneasy Benny is around Adrian, with there being a definite undercurrent to their scenes that plays off the events that have transpired between the characters previously. Bowerman also voices the renegade computer. James Lailey is very convincing too as the eccentric Traloor, with his voice possessing a refined quality that you'd expect from a reclusive, depressed billionaire who'd fall in love with, of all things, the house. Now that's what I call a bizarre love triangle!

Harry Myers does well as Adrian Wall in the character's first audio appearance, his rough and aggressive voice being ideal for the character, although it's still difficult to imagine him as a "seven foot tall cross between an ape and an upright wolf with fangs, snout and claws" due to the fact he still sounds slightly human. It's noteworthy that this character's race would appear again a few years after this release in two sixth Doctor audio plays, Arrangements for War and Thicker Than Water.

As it is, The Stone's Lament is very enjoyable thanks to the combination of the good performances and the focused plot. However, despite the nature of the surprise ending, this is a story that could have benefited from having a little more to it, such as additional subplots and perhaps even an extra character or two. Furthermore, you might have to get hold of a copy of The Doomsday Manuscript and The Squire's Crystal especially to be able to follow what went down prior to this story!

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