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2 May 2012

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Barnaby Edwards 

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 30th April 2012

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 2nd May 2012

It is 1926 and in Calcutta, The Doctor and his companions arrive, not to soak up the atmosphere of Imperial India, but to watch a cricket match. Things are never that simple in The Doctor’s life as they are immediately attacked by a rabid man who infects Nyssa with a virus. After the TARDIS and the urgently needed medical supplies end up on a private train, The Doctor and his companions are separated. Helped by a local archaeologist he discovers that there is more to Nyssa’s condition than meets the eye.

All roads seem to be leading deep within the jungle, to a lost land where nature, myth and evil lurk. This is the realm of the fabled Emerald Tiger.

This is the first in the third trilogy of stories featuring The Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Turlough. It is pleasing to know that Big Finish has a lot of faith in these releases as The Emerald Tiger is certainly one of the best plays for this TARDIS team since Heroes of Sontar.

For a start the performances from the entire cast are excellent. The main TARDIS crew, especially Peter Davison are on top form and it reminds you just why this is one of the strongest groupings in the main Big Finish range. 

Barnaby Edwards has put together a stellar supporting cast with the wonderful Cherie Lunghi leading the charge as Lady Forster. Lunghi instils in the Lady Forster, a quiet but very strong sense of dignity and resolve in the face of extreme personal danger and in dealing with the tragedy that the character has suffered. It is the strongest performance in the play and I hope that Lunghi’s services are called on again by Big Finish as she has a natural voice for audio.

Central to the story are both the roles of Professor Narayan and the highly intriguing character of Dawon played by the lovely Vineeta Rishi. It would be a horrible thing to spoil the true motivation and nature of their characters (especially Dawon) so I shall refrain from giving too much away. Both actors are very well cast and both characters are our guides into the realm of the Emerald Tiger and the dark secrets that lie within.

Neil Stacy is great as the villainous bounder Major Haggard, who, as The Doctor rightly observes is “a walking embodiment of everything that’s going to bring down the British Raj.” He is dastardly, cold and sometimes rather charming despite the awful deeds he commits. But Haggard is just small fry compared to the real villain of the piece.

Shardul Khan is a wonderful creation; a character hidden in the shadows until the conclusion, his menace is excellently conveyed by the vocal talent of Vincent Ebrahim and his performance is one of the plays many highlights.

From a technical point of view, The Emerald Tiger is brilliant as it offers an incredibly rich sound design by Howard Carter who also provides a suitably beautiful and authentic score. Barnaby Edwards and Carter have worked closely together on the Textbook Stuff audio book series and Carter brings the same quality and skill to Big Finish. Carter’s work gives the play an incredibly epic feel and does much to story the imagination during the many action sequences Edwards has put into the story. 

Edwards had littered The Emerald Tiger with many references to the colonial literature of India under British rule and anything pulp related. There are strong echoes of The Jungle Book, King Solomon’s Mines and even a charming nod to Tarzan. Characters have names such as Forster and Burroughs which are of course all linked strongly to the jungle tale theme. Listeners who are familiar with their literature will enjoy spotting the references whilst being swept along by the story.

The Emerald Tiger is an adventure story steeped in the mythology and magic one associates with India particularly of that period. For the first three parts of the play the pace is kept very high; even expositional conversations feel exciting and there are many classic action set pieces used throughout. From a car crash to a fight for survival on a train, there really is never a fully dull moment in this play.

The only sad thing is that a little of the momentum of the first three parts is lost near the conclusion of the fourth. The play seems to wrap itself up a little too quickly and there is a slight lack of an emotional pay off. This IS merely a minor niggle from me as there is so much to enjoy here.

The Emerald Tiger is a highly enjoyable play and an incredibly strong start in a new trilogy from one of Big Finish’s finest Writer / Directors.

Alison Sergent United States
3/25/2020 9:56:08 AM #

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