22 September 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Mark Morris

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 30th September 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 22nd September 2011

Fear can get to us all, even the Doctor, and it is this that lies at the heart of this second of Big Finish’s releases for September featuring the Seventh Doctor and quite frankly, it is the best.  

Our story begins with a lost girl; confused and alone at the front door of Blue Fire House, a tumbledown hotel on the very edge of nowhere. She is met by Mr Soames, the elderly caretaker who tells her that she is expected by the Master of the house, and her room is ready. This is news to the girl, as she has no memory of how she got here and who she is.

Gradually, she comes to realize that she is not the first. There are others like her, all without their memories, addressing each other by their room numbers, in place of lost names. If things could not get any worse, the house seems to be haunted, plagued with strange visions and noises and just who is the tall man in the window of the tower room? These people are slowly being drawn together for a dinner date with fear, and something far more ancient is lurking in the shadows.

What is striking about the first episode of this play is that it is virtually Doctor Free. The bulk of the episode is carried brilliantly for much of its length by Amy Pemberton and Miranda Keeling who play No 18 and No 5. This should go down as one of the finest opening episodes in a Big Finish story in its history. It is beautifully atmospheric and played to perfection and when the Doctor finally turns up he gets the best line in the whole play. 

Sylvester McCoy is in fine mode, turning out another strong performance as do the rest of the cast including acting royalty Timothy West as Soames.

The rest of the play repeats a similar plot device to The Doomsday Quatrain, in that the story eventually reveals itself to be a lot more than we have been led to believe. Unlike the former, the revelation works more strongly here. It is not perfect by any means as it does somewhat diminish the wonderful atmosphere set up in the first two episodes; however it magnifies the motivations of the central antagonist, a creature who creates fear to feed off it. 

This brings us to the villain of the piece, The Mi’en Kalarash. Its presence is mostly dealt with off audio, for want of a better phrase but it is eventually given voice by possessing one of the characters. The concept of the Time Lords having their own boogieman is fascinating, and McCoy sells the threat presented by this creature, even if it eventually sounds like a sinister voice overdubbed with a vocoder. 

Overall though, with a strong story, more hints of the mysterious Black TARDIS and the tantalising suggestion of a new companion for McCoy, House of Blue Fire is definitely worth your time.

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