16 May 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Peter Anghelides

RRP: £8.99

Release Date: 31st May 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 16th May 2011

What if the search for the Key to Time wasn’t as easy as we once thought? What if the Fourth Doctor and Romana took a few detours along the way? This intriguing idea is a highly appealing factor about this latest Companion Chronicle

Set between The Stones of Blood and The Androids of Tara, The Doctor and Romana arrive in a small quiet village in Norfolk, following a strong signal that will lead them to the next segment of the Key.

In their search they stumble into the observatory of former US astronaut and recently widowed Lady Millcent Ferril. Lady Ferr il is a woman with her eyes fixed firmly on the stars, who has created rather grotesque metal sculptures in the gardens of her estate and that is not the only thing that is made of metal. The Lady has plans of a maliciously cosmic kind and she quickly realizes that the Doctor and Romana are the only ones who can help put those plans into action, whether they like it or not.

As a two hander between Romana and Lady Ferril, the play’s greatest strength is the point of views given between our heroic protagonist and antagonist. To hear events unfold through the villain of the piece is a lovely idea and Lady Ferril is deliciously evil creation played fantastically by Madeline Potter. To have her as an American character helps with the transition between Romana and Ferril’s grasps of events which can happen quite suddenly and unexpectedly throughout. The Doctor spends some good portions of the story out of sight and the bulk of the narrative falls between the leading ladies. Mary Tamm shines as Romana and her tired slightly annoyed tone at the high jinks of the Doctor are one of the play’s highlights.

As a story, it is quite a strange tale but feels genuinely like it could have slotted itself easily into the Key to Time sequence as writer Peter Anghelides captures the feel and tone of that season very well.

Lady Millcent’s ability to control metal makes for some rather gruesome moments but the main criticism that I have about this release is the rather confusing and disappointing ending. To reveal the nature of my disappointment would spoil play but let us just say that to have the majority of your play told by two people in hindsight and have one remaining after dispatching the other with no clear resolution is very confusing and a real let down. I kept waiting after the closing music to hear if there would be an epilogue but sadly not and I felt that it might mar a listener’s overall enjoyment of the story as a whole.

All in all Ferril’s Folly is a very enjoyable tale, with two excellent performances but it loses marks for its baffling and disappointing ending.

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