Big Finish: Torchwood SAVE OUR SOULS Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: Torchwood SAVE OUR SOULS Review

Matthew Kresal answers an SOS.

Though nominally set in present day Cardiff, Torchwood on TV hinted at a far broader history and scope for the organization. It's something that Big Finish's range of audio dramas has been keen to take advantage of, particularly with a strand of stories focused on the monarch who founded it: Queen Victoria. Save Our Souls picks up that particular storyline for a spooky hour of listening.

Scott Hancock's script offers plenty of promise. Queen Victoria is off visiting tiny Flat Holme Island which is home to a Torchwood facility, one that has been experimenting with the burgeoning field of wireless radio. One that has located something in the ether with a familiar voice and the apparent ability predict the future. With Her Majesty is the medium Samuel Okonjo (Kingsley Amadi), the soldier Captain Henry (Wayne Forrester), the scientist Owain Pryce (Gruffudd Glyn), and maid Florence Driscoll (Gwyneth Keyworth). What starts as a practical demonstration, however, turns into a night of terror when the voice offers predictions of death, and events turn into a fearful game of last one standing.

In short, a Torchwood whodunit with a twist. It has the remote setting, specifically a lighthouse, and a small cast of characters whose sins have been laid bare, and the lingering threat of death from forces unknown. Hancock's script then is part Agatha Christie's And There Were None and part Terrance Dicks' The Horror of Fang Rock, crossing one classic of the mystery genre with a classic from Torchwood's parent series. And, by the time it's over with, it's clear that it is all the better for it.

It also helps that, given how small the cast is, it can deliver. Rowenna Cooper (who started her Big Finish career playing Liz Shaw's mum in the Companion Chronicles release The Last Post) has proven to be a perfect choice for Torchwood's take on Queen Victoria, remaining calm and resolute despite everything going on around her. The supporting cast is just as intriguing from Kingsley Amadi's medium Samuel, Gruffudd Glyn's put upon scientist with a short fuse, and Wayne Forester as the sympathetic but suspiciously minded career soldier. Then there's Gwyneth Keyworth's Florence, a performance that's got some intriguing facets to it, from her particular secret of the past to what she gets up to on this little island. It's a heck of a cast, and all the more standout given the nature of the story they're performing, with top marks to director Lisa Bowerman for both some solid casting and getting what she does from the cast.

As this is an audio drama, performances are only part of the equation. For a story like this, the music and sound design are crucial for conveying the atmosphere. Thankfully, both Blair Mowat and Steve Foxon deliver in their respective departments. Mowat offers a score that exudes atmosphere without ever being intrusive or attention diverting. Foxon creates a dynamic soundscape that adds immeasurably to the effectiveness of the piece, something that is the result of a well-thought-out process that the designer goes into on the extras track. Together, they complement the script and cast wonderfully.

The result? Save Our Souls is an atmospheric and spooky piece of work, the kind of thing that Big Finish has found suits their Torchwood anthology range as it races up and down the organization's history. It's also something which reminds fans that, as much loved as the TV cast are, there's more to Torchwood's corner of Doctor Who.

And you should be ready to hear it.

Torchwood: Save Our Souls is exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until September 30th 2020, and on general sale after this date.

Matthew lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places. 

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