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22 October 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Simon Guerrier

RRP: £8.99

Release Date: 30th September 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 22nd October 2011

Memory is a peculiar thing; it can be both a valuable and dangerous, especially if it is manipulated, and it is this concept that drives this rather excellent Companion Chronicle.

Zoe Heriot, dreams every night of adventures she may or may not have had with the Doctor and Jamie in the TARDIS. Now she is a prisoner of the Company. They are convinced she has travelled in time and they want to know more about the Doctor. But what can Zoe tell them? After all she is renowned for her total recall of even the most insignificant details. If she had travelled with the Doctor, surely she would know about it. The Company have found some evidence to help jog her memory; documents which place Zoe with the Doctor and Jamie in a Russian town in the aftermath of the revolution, where something or someone came out of the night, taking the town’s children. Faced with this evidence, Zoe slowly begins to remember what happened. Or does she?

This is an excellent two hander between Wendy Padbury reprising the role of Zoe and Charlie Hayes, Padbury’s own daughter in the role of Jen, Zoe’s interrogator. Both play the mutual suspicion of one another convincingly, and it is the strength of their performances which draw you into the story.

Padbury is superb playing a much older and hardened Zoe, showing at times how the character seems to have become a being of detached logic and reason. Jen is the counterbalance to this. She is firm but sympathetic, simply wanting to know the whole story, and Hayes does a wonderful job playing her.

This Companion Chronicle is a tale within a tale, so what of the story that both Zoe and Jen relate to one another?

The story itself is creepy but rather at times a pedestrian affair, although with some wonderfully disturbing images such as the Children encased in Alien cobwebs. But what becomes clear as the drama unfolds is that it is not the story that is important, but who is telling it.

Throughout Jen relates the details through the historical documents and archives provided by the company and the gaps are filled by Zoe’s memories as they break through the wipe placed on it by the Time Lords. But all is not as it seems.

To give away the ending of this play would rob it of its excellent shock value, but suffice to say it is revealed brilliantly and will leave you pondering way after the closing music has played.

This is a play without easy resolutions and raises many questions about the accuracy of stories. Should we believe what we are told and does written information hold the truth about everything? Can we ever really know the truth about anything?

This is a very fine addition to The Companion Chronicles and yet another reason why this series is an important part of Big Finish’s output.

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