Ah, Stockbridge! We’ve been here…before…hmmm. Something’s wrong here. Very wrong.
Plague of the Daleks, by Mark Morris
For the third play in the Stockbridge trilogy, we head into the future. Where tourists come from all over the galaxy to visit this environment-domed recreation of a quaint English village. Where Westworld meets the west Wolds (Ha! See what I did there?). Where you really, really don’t want to go down into the church crypt…
This play reinforces my belief that Eternal Summer was the best of the three. No offence to the writer, or to the guest stars here (Keith Barron & Lisa Tarbuck, no less), but while the idea of a time-capsule Stockbridge works well, the Daleks themselves seem more than a little out of place. They really don’t suit the idea of Stockbridge – and they certainly don’t suit skulking about beneath the village church. In some ways they almost feel incidental to the fact that the Doctor and Nyssa are here at all.
At least Nyssa has a lot more to do than just follow the Doctor around in this play – they’re split up very early on, making this – as one of the accompanying interviews notes – a pair of two-handers more than one single play. Lisa Tarbuck is the pick of the guests, played well against Nyssa’s more cautious approach, and it’s a shame her character ends up the way she does.
Bonus review: Bernice Summerfield and the Plague Herds of Excelis, by Stephen Cole
Yeah, I know, I know – there’s three Excelis plays to listen to before this one. But I can’t do that without breaking my timey-wimey thing! And anyway: Plague of the Daleks, and Plague Herds of Excelis. Two plagues for the price of one! Right, now I got that out of my system, it’s time to crack on.
I’ve mentioned Iris Wildthyme before – creation of Paul Magrs, referenced in a couple of audios so far. Well, here she is, played by Katy Manning, who was Jo Grant between 1971 and 1973. Iris travels through time and space…in a London Routemaster bus. Naturally. And she’s fond of a drink. As you would be if you’d been stuck on the Edgware Road since 1492.
I can’t help but feel that I’m missing something here (three other plays, perhaps) – though the story stands up on its own, there’s enough references to What Has Gone Before to spoil the tone just a little. And Iris’s motivation – as she isn’t written here by her creator, I have to wonder if this is how she’s supposed to sound. Accessorising with ancient relics? Really? Hmmm. And, thinking about it, the accent’s a bit much too. Demmit, I’m convincing myself out of liking this story, which is a bit of a shame because I quite liked the image of dead cattle being catapulted over city walls. Reminds me of Barnsley Markets.