The Doctor barely gets Charley out of yet another near-death scrape, and realizes that they both need a vacation. The Doctor decides to take his companion to the lovely city of Venice…but naturally, overshoots the time frame a little bit and winds up taking her to Venice in the 23rd century, on the day before the fabled city sinks under the water once and for all. But Charley is stunned to see that no evacuation is being carried out – quite the contrary, in fact. Mad Duke Orsino is planning one last revel, and the more inebriated, the better as far as he’s concerned. Other Venetians aren’t taking their last day on Earth quite so calmly. Orsino’s court curator, Churchwell, is all but in a panic about the fate of the Duke’s valuable art collection. Pietro, a member of an amphibious race of gondoliers, has his eye on Charley in hopes of using her in a plot to help his people take over the city. The High Priest of an order that worships the Duke’s late wife means to see an ancient prophecy fulfilled, no matter the cost in human lives. And in his madness, the Duke deputizes someone to the throne, someone who may destroy everyone even before the city crumbles at daybreak. This time, the Doctor and Charley won’t be able to escape by dawn.
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley), Michael Sheard (Count Orsino), Nick Scovell (Churchwell), Barnaby Edwards (Pietro), Elaine Ives-Cameron (Ms. Lavish), Mark Gatiss (Vincenzo)
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Paul Magrs’ first contribution to the Audio Adventures seems to take a little while to pick up the pace, but it is in fact skillfully laying the groundwork to establish the various factions pitted against each other in the story. Magrs sketches the Doctor’s character perfectly, and McGann sounds like he’s having a blast. This is the eighth Doctor at his most irreverent, eccentric and intuitive – and McGann plays it to the hilt.
The rest of the cast gets high marks, though special guest Michael Sheard deserves special mention for his portrayal of Orsino. It would’ve been all too easy to play the Duke over-the-top, but Sheard opts for a slightly more low-key approach which draws you into following the character, only to discover that he’s barking mad.
And where I panned his last score for the series (Red Dawn, which wasn’t really the most inspirational story to begin with), Russell Stone excels with this story’s music, darting back and forth between the story’s sinister atmosphere and some jazzy source music for the royal court. One piece in particular, which occurs under a humorous McGann monologue, really jumped out at me and I found myself backing the CD up just to listen to the music. Well done!