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25 November 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Paul Finch, from a story by Peter Ling and Hazel Adair

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 30th November 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 25th November 2011

The Fifth Doctor returns in the second of this trilogy of Lost Stories and it is a rather strange but interesting play.

People all over the world are going missing andthe only person who seems to care is journalist Mike Bretherton. After gathering evidence, Mike is ready to break the story of his carreer, but one night he too vanishes, and his story with him. Unlike the others who vanished, Mike has an advantage.

His disappearance does not go unnoticed, especially since he was the old boyfriend of one Tegan Jovanka. Fearful for his safety, she implores the Doctor to go looking for him, and the mystery of it all is more than enough to get him curious. Following the trail the TARDIS lands, on the uninhabited planet of Luparis. At least it was when the Doctor last visited; now it seems to be an exact recreation of Tudor London. The mystery deepens as the Doctor is brought before the powerful Queen Zafira, a determined monarch living in a time of civil unrest amongst her people. The Queen is proud and not shy about doing almost anything  for her and her subjects to survive.

Something is certainly not right with Luparis. There are creatures hiding in the shadows, and treachery and usurpers are afoot amongst the Queen’s court. Will the mystery of Luparis be uncovered and will Doctor escape a fate worse than death: Marriage to the Queen herself?

Hexagora is chockfull of quite frankly bonkers ideas and set pieces. Yet it has the most wonderful underlying story. However it has to be said that while there is a great deal to enjoy here, not everything about the play works.

It can be said that no fault lies in the performances. Everyone works incredibly well here, especially Peter Davison and guest star Jacqueline Pearce. Pearce finds the likability in this self important monarch whose every whim is granted above all things. She is the highlight of the production and there is never a dull moment when she is present.

Toby Hadoke is a great addition to the cast, playing not only a convincing Australian, but probably the only man in the Universe who might just able to put up with Tegan for a lifetime. Hadoke also voices many minor parts throughout, all of which he attacks with great enthusiasm, and I hope he becomes a Big Finish regular, especially after hearing his performance in Robophobia earlier this year.

The rest of the cast do sterling work. Janet Fielding is always a joy to listen to when Tegan gets angry at something or someone and Sarah Sutton, despite not being in the play that much, is very good indeed.

The other guest stars, Richard Mark, Dan Starkey and Sean Brosnan make up a very good cast and everyone excels in their own roles splendidly.

At its heart, Hexagora presents many fascinating ideas, but sadly not all of them are explored as fully as you would hope. As the secret of Luparis slowly reveals itself, you get to see what a brilliant concept the story is. It is highly original and some of the more absurd elements do eventually come together to make sense. But there are many threads left unexplored or just resolved too quickly. 

One of the most obvious is the relationship between Mike and Tegan. It is implied and heavily stated that Tegan’s feelings towards Mike are very strong, and he says just as much about her himself. But we rarely get to see any of it when the two confront one another. It feels like not so much an old love rekindled, but more of an old acquaintance awkwardly revisited.  Particular revelation of Tegan’s past deserved more attention than what is granted here.

Thematically, Hexagora shares many things in common with last month’s story The Elite. I would argue that Hexagora acts as a suitable companion piece to that play. Without giving away spoilers, many of the ideas in The Elite are explored here but inverted, whether intentionally or not.  When listened to together, it is impossible not to draw some comparisons, as the themes of a civilisation surviving by any means necessary run strongly in throughout both productions, but they not fully explored as they are in The Elite.

The final resolution to the whole play feels somewhat rushed, and may leave a listener feeling a little unsatisfied. This is a shame as Hexagora has so much to offer and it is certainly a recommended listen. It is intriguing, exciting and rather fun in some places and very entertaining despite the somewhat flat ending.

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