The Liberator Chronicles – Volume 5
5.1 Logic by Simon Guerrier
5.2 Risk Management by Una McCormack
5.3 Three by James Goss
Sound Design by Martin Montague (Logic, Three) and Howard Carter (Risk Management)
Music by Jamie Robertson (Logic, Three) and Howard Carter (Risk Management)
Directed by Ken Bentley (Logic) and Lisa Bowerman (Risk Management, Three)
Produced by David Richardson for Big Finish Productions
Review by Jackie Emery
The Liberator Chronicles are presented as 'enhanced audiobooks', but of the three stories in this collection only Risk Management actually falls into that category; defined by having a main narrator plus additional dialogue from a secondary character. The other two stories feel more like audio drama than dramatic reading, and all three tales are excellent. Set during Season 2 of Blakes 7, each has its own unique tone, style and combination of characters.
5.1 Logic by Simon Guerrier
Performed by Louise Jameson, Paul Darrow, Sally Knyvette and Jacqueline Pearce
Pol lives in a Domed City on Earth. She leads a contented life; she has a job she enjoys and a good husband. Then one day she returns home to find Avon waiting for her...
This is a terrific story, cleverly written and extremely well acted. Pol is the main narrator, interacting in turn with Avon, Jenna and Servalan, as the truth behind her apparent ordinariness is gradually revealed. The background of everyday life under Federation rule in the Domed City is convincingly portrayed, as is the punishment of even minor misdemeanors. The narration and dialogue flow seamlessly, and although each scene is a two-hander, the overall effect is that of a four-hander play. Despite the seriousness of this story, there are still flashes of humour. Louise Jameson turns in a brilliant performance as Pol, and Avon, Jenna and Servalan are all perfectly portrayed by their respective actors.
The story is further enhanced by Jamie Robertson's music, while the excellent sound design by Martin Montague provides detailed soundscapes for the various locations in which the action takes place and different sound qualities to differentiate between narration, memories and dialogue. If I had to nit-pick, I would question the use of the fluttering sound of an old-style film projector, although I concede that the quiet hum of a digital projector wouldn't be as effective. Perhaps the clunk-whirr of a 1980's video player would have provided a more appropriate sound?
5.2. Risk Management by Una McCormack
Performed by Gareth Thomas and Sally Knyvette
At the invitation of the Sutskar Revolutionary Council, Blake and Jenna go to Space Station XK17, to assist their representatives auction their only valuable resource - Galveston Crystals - to finance their planet's reconstruction. However, they soon find themselves embroiled in treachery and double-crossing...
This story returns to the classic style of enhanced audiobook, with Blake as the main narrator and additional dialogue scenes together with Jenna. It's an enjoyable tale that includes a couple of plot twists and a satisfying outcome. It's lighter in tone, with humour to be found in the character descriptions and dialogue. It feels as if Blake is telling the story with a twinkle in his eye, and Gareth's rendition of Madame Le Gret's dialogue (with overtones of Lady Bracknell) is a joy. Meanwhile, Sally gives Jenna's lines a wry, dry humour, and the Blake/Jenna interactions work very well.
In this story, the background music and sound fx, both by Howard Carter, are sparser. They're subtle but effective, as befits the overall style of the story. Special mention should go to Sally, who also provided the voice of the Automatic Concierge, giving it an almost Hitchhiker-esque quality.
In terms of story order, Risk Management is well placed – some welcome light relief between the other two tales, both of which are quite grim!
5.3. Three by James Goss
Performed by Jacqueline Pearce and Joseph Kloska
Supreme Commander Servalan has agreed to a rare interview with the journalist Cullen. He is on a quest to uncover the truth about her background, but finds out more than he bargained for...
This is a two-hander play, in which journalist Cullen interviews the Supreme Commander about her past. The all-dialogue structure works extremely well, and it's a gripping, dark, twisted story.
In his interview with Horizon, producer David Richard said that Jacqueline Pearce adored this script, and thought it was the best Blake’s 7 script she has ever read. She certainly gives an outstanding performance as Servalan, portraying every aspect of her character - by turns imperious, flirtatious, humorous, cruel – but always in control. Joseph Kloska is wonderful as the journalist; initially nervous of being in the presence of the Supreme Commander, then questioning her with increasing confidence as she appears to open to up to him, until he becomes aware of the cat and mouse game she is playing with him. It's an extraordinary tale – in the search for truth, how much can be believed?
The music and sound effects were again provided by Jamie Robertson and Martin Montague, respectively. This story is set entirely on Space Command HQ, but there is some variety in locations, as during the interview Servalan and Cullen move between her office, a viewport and an artificial garden. Each of those locations is given its own distinctive soundscape, and avoids what could otherwise have been a claustrophobic feel to the story.
In summary, it's wonderful the way the writers and actors continue to explore new aspects of the original characters in a variety of narrative styles. The Liberator Chronicles series is going from strength to strength, and Volume 5 is yet another collection of which Big Finish can be very proud.
Liberator Chronicles Volume 5 is available from Big Finish on CD and digital download here: Big Finish LC5
Full details of their current range of B7 audio dramas, audio books and original novels can be found here: Big Finish B7 Hub
Box set cover artwork by Anthony Lamb
Photograph of Louise Jameson and Paul Darrow courtesy of Big Finish
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