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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Beast of Orlok


Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99 (CD), £8.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 395 8
Available 30 May 2009

Germany, 1827. The town of Orlok is under a curse, haunted by the memory of a spate of grisly murders that shattered the community 20 years before. At the time, townsfolk blamed the legendary Beast of Orlok, a nightmarish creature from medieval folklore. Now, it seems, the Beast has returned. As the killings begin again, the people of Orlok are understandably suspicious of two strangers newly arrived in their midst. The Doctor and Lucie must face their darkest fears as they find themselves plunged into a decidedly grim fairy tale...

Having bonded once more during the course of their battle against the Krynoids in Hothouse, the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and Lucie Miller (Sheridan Smith) are well and truly back to their wise-cracking selves. There’s some particularly snappy dialogue in this adventure, including a mischievous allusion to Voyage of the Damned, and Lucie and the Doctor independently cracking the same joke about the Burgomaster: “There’s a branch of that in Lytham St Annes.”

Barnaby Edwards both writes and directs this production - which combines elements of Frankenstein, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and other stories and myths of Germanic origin - so there’s no danger of the director compromising the writer’s vision! Having said that, perhaps Edwards is a little too close to the subject to effectively communicate his vision to others. I had trouble working out what had happened to certain characters and had to listen to some scenes again (not that that’s too much of a chore).

Further confusion is caused by the fact that the vocal qualities of Baron Teufel (Peter Guinness) and Otto Pausbacken (Nick Wilton) sound very similar to me, while attempts to get Trevor Cooper to play multiple roles are once again thwarted by the actor’s voice being so darned distinctive (see also The Haunting of Thomas Brewster). However, the casting of Miriam Margolyes as Frau Tod is perfect and a real coup. Edwards wrote the part with the actress in mind, as he reveals in the CD extras and in his sleeve notes.

Though I’ve poked some holes in The Beast of Orlok, it really is very enjoyable, so please don’t be put off by my nit-picking. It would have been a rather short review if I’d just stuck to superlatives! I could have quoted further dialogue gems, but then you wouldn’t get to discover them for yourselves. A formidable Beast.


Richard McGinlay

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