Bernice and her sidekick Adrian find themselves in a crumbling
palace in the Prison Season of Spring, replete with an imperious
queen and a prissy but rather sweet AI gaoler. How did they
arrive? Why doesn't anyone know who the famous Professor Summerfield
is? Before long there is murder as there always is and
Benny is accused...
Although, for a change, there is no Doctor Who monster
in this audio adventure, there is a distinct flavour of a
couple of Who's more offbeat stories here. Like the
Second Doctor in The
Mind Robber, Bernice (Lisa Bowerman) finds
herself in a bizarre alternative to reality. And the solution
that she eventually hits upon for escaping this realm owes
a particularly large debt to the aforementioned Patrick Troughton
also an element of the equally oddball William Hartnell story
The Celestial Toymaker,
in that the threat to Benny - that of being reduced to a fictional
character - is not unlike the Toymaker's penalty - that of
becoming one of his toys.
strange land in which Bernice and Adrian (Harry Myers) are
deposited is divided into four kingdoms, which are named after
the four seasons of the year and populated by a trickster-like
playwright, the Player (Robin Sebastian), and a Lewis Carroll-style
Queen (Sunny Ormande). Hmmm... Lewis Carroll... Writer Stewart
Sheargold's previous Bernice adventure, The
Mirror Effect, involved a looking glass. Do
I see a pattern emerging here?
In a sense, this story brings Benny's adventures full circle,
because its theatrical theme is also similar to the pantomime
setting of Oh No It Isn't, the heroine's very first
spin-off novel and audio adventure. However, whereas Oh
No It Isn't offered clues as to what the heck was going
on, Sheargold's approach is more surreal. Only at the end
of the CD do we find out whether these bizarre events are
some kind of parallel universe (at the outset Benny and Adrian
appear to be long-term lovers), a deranged hallucination,
loopy performances by Ormande and Sebastian, the latter of
whom possesses a distinct quality of Kenneth Williams in his
voice, help to pass the time while you scratch your head in
I'm not sure what Sheargold has been smoking, but I wouldn't
mind trying some.
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