Big Finish – ‘Vampire of the Mind’
Big Finish – ‘Vampire of the Mind’

In April, Big Finish launched ‘The Two Masters’ trilogy with the intricately plotted ‘And You Will Obey Me’ featuring Peter Davison and Geoffrey Beevers as the Doctor and Master respectively. Now, their successors come face-to-face in a story about memory, missing scientists, and a zombie-infested castle. Why does the Doctor remember forgetting this before?

Colin Baker is, as usual, on form as the Doctor but the real star of the show is Kate Kennedy, who absolutely knocks it out of the park in her Big Finish debut as Heather. Kate and Colin have tremendous chemistry that really makes us want to hear more of them together. Heather is written and performed with an endearing confidence, taking all the weirdness thrown at her in her first encounter with the Doctor in her stride. Though there’s no indication that Heather is set to return, on the strength of this performance we hope we’ll at least get to hear much more of Kennedy in the future.

The monsters are surprisingly effective for what even the script describes as zombies. It would have been all too easy to have the Master hypnotising a bunch of locals to do his bidding, but when you learn who they are and what happened to them it adds an extra layer of ruthlessness that suits the villain perfectly. In particular, the Master’s manipulation of Gobernar is an excellent demonstration of how charming and manipulative he can be without the use of hypnosis, which only makes him scarier.

As with Beevers last month, this is the first time we’ve heard Alex Macqueen’s take on the Master and he’s fast becoming our favourite version, exuding spine-tingling menace in the lightest whisper. That said, we are a little concerned that his performance and Beevers’ are just similar enough that it may be difficult for someone unaccustomed to their voices to distinguish between them when they clash in the conclusion of the trilogy next month. The greater consistency in the characterisation of the Master’s incarnations may end up doing the two actors a disservice.

Whereas we found ‘And You Will Obey Me’ to be a bit too busy, ‘Vampire of the Mind’ is a fairly straightforward run around with the bulk of the story taking place on a small island and a castle. Though this does mean that the cliffhangers get repetitive. However, if you enjoyed the Master’s elaborate, decade-spanning machinations in ‘And You Will Obey Me’, you may be disappointed by his comparatively straightforward plan, this time, around. But that lack of complexity may have been necessary to work in more overt setups for the concluding part of the trilogy. The story works as a standalone piece, of course, but some major plot points are introduced that aren’t fully paid off.

Chances are we’ll get all our questions answered, including a downright chilling twist during the closing seconds of the play, in June when the trilogy wraps up with a self-titled concluding story.

‘The Two Masters’ will star Sylvester McCoy alongside both Beevers and Macqueen as the Master(s). The trailer helpfully tacked onto the end of this release, makes it clear that this is going to be a high-stakes game with time itself in the balance and the Seventh Doctor matching wits against his intellectual equal…twice.

Blogtor Rating – 9/10

Synopsis

Somewhere off the South Coast of England, there’s a lonely island. On that island stands a solitary castle, long since abandoned – haunted, they say. But the truth is, that castle houses something far worse than mere ghosts.

The castle is what lies at the end of a trail followed by the Doctor in search of several missing scientists – all of them connected to the top secret Dominus Institute and its elusive CEO, Sir Andrew Gobernar…

But the Doctor will soon discover that he’s the one being haunted, by a ghost from his past… or perhaps, his future.

Written By: Justin Richards
Directed By: Jamie Anderson

Cast

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Alex Macqueen (The Master), John Standing (Professor Threadstone), Kate Kennedy (Heather Threadstone), Neil Edmond(Boatman/Guard/Blank), Catriona Knox (Landlady/Blank), Elliot Levey(Gobernar/Blank). Other parts portrayed by members of the cast.

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