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Audio Review - Liberator Chronicles Volume 5


The Liberator Chronicles – Volume 5

Review by M1795537 OC Virn

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)
Cover Artwork by Anthony Lamb
Directed by Ken Bentley (Logic) and Lisa Bowerman (Risk Management, Three)
Produced by David Richardson for Big Finish Productions


I would characterise this collection with the word 'influences'. It's not easy to face your past and see what you did wrong. Or right, for that matter, depending on the consequences. To understand what influences your decisions demands self-knowledge. Or possibly fear.


5.1 Logic by Simon Guerrier
Performed by Louise Jameson, Paul Darrow, Sally Knyvette and Jacqueline Pearce

In the first story, we are treated to a series of repetitions, each revealing a little more about the central character, Pol Astat.
We might never have known she mattered at all, but for the intervention of Avon at his snarliest, forcing her to delve into memories too painful to recall. Likewise, we wouldn't have understood why he was there, until the fragmented history of her life eventually reveals the connection.

It's painful to listen to someone who thought she was ordinary; who believed her life was safe and productive, whose self-image unravels as the truth becomes clearer. What makes it so scary is that, like her, any of us can do awful things, given the right sort of stress. Or compulsion.

I intentionally hadn't read the credits, preferring to come to the story without preconceptions, but Louise Jameson's voice was immediately recognisable. Logic isn't a quite a monologue, but her role is foremost, and involves a wide range of conflicting emotions, expertly performed, lending her character depth and veracity. She is well supported by Paul Darrow as Avon. I think he probably enjoyed making his character sound heartless, as Avon pushes Pol to the limit,and beyond. The interventions of Sally Knyvette and Jacqueline Pearce retain the qualities of both Jenna and Servalan respectively, their smaller but vital parts making sense of other aspects of the plot.

What makes Logic feel all the more threatening is the use of musical themes and sound fx similar to those of early Blake’s 7 episodes, reminding us of how the Federation interrogated Blake and rebuilt his mind. Like Pol, we are forced to reconsider things we'd probably rather forget. That's clever.

Stories help us make sense of our experiences. This one speaks of an ordinary life caught up in extraordinary events. It could happen to anyone. It could happen to you.

5.2. Risk Management by Una McCormack
Performed by Gareth Thomas and Sally Knyvette

There’s a different kind of influence here: political, for the most part.

It's great to hear Gareth Thomas in the lead role as Blake. Fans of action sequences might be disappointed, because the narrative is given largely in retrospect, after the problems have been solved. It's delightfully ironic to hear Blake expressing his belief in freedom for the masses, then leading us through the twists and turns of what actually happens when the people take over, especially the problem of who gets to keep the spoils.

Sally Knyvette plays Jenna with more of her piratical past in view, although she solves one of the biggest problems they encounter without a shot fired. Sally's timing brings a touch of wit and humour to some fairly weighty topics.

The background music is unobtrusive but relevant, building tension where we need it. The sounds we hear - crowd noises, for example - occasionally feel more like punctuation than reality, although it all helps to build the picture.

The end result of Blake's involvement may be for some a little simplistic, but it works. Lighter in tone than the other two stories in this collection, Risk Management turns out to be a case of 'Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By' - but do it first. Then you might not get 'done'.

5.3. Three by James Goss
Performed by Jacqueline Pearce and Joseph Kloska

At last, here is a writer who truly understands Servalan. Her story, brilliantly written, not from the outside looking in, but from the inside looking out.

One knows from the start that it will all end in tears, but the how, and above all the why, are what draw us in.

Joseph Kloska is convincing and sympathetic in the part of Cullen, a reporter who landed the interview everyone else has been refused - the chance to tell President Servalan's story.

The President answers his questions candidly, allowing him access to her life and her personality in ways he couldn't have imagined. In return, she also has questions that reveal how intimately she knows him, his past, and his delightful young family.

The background texture of their conversation is enhanced by some excellent sound design. Changes of pace and location are created by the quality of sound, while individual effects provide welcome colour for the listener's imagination to work on. It's not only the noises that matter: carefully managed echoes and silences reinforce the atmosphere of menace that grows with each new revelation.

Jacqueline Pearce's impeccable characterisation is believable and consistent, creating a Servalan as charming as she is terrifying. Jacqueline was a woman of unique quality, and is sadly missed, but in this fascinating and unnerving account, she lives on.

Overall, this is a varied and entertaining collection. I am indebted to those members of the Forum who recommended Three. It is the best Blake's 7 I've come across in a long time.

***

Liberator Chronicles Volume 5 is available from Big Finish on CD and digital download here: Big Finish LC5
Full details of their range of B7 audio dramas, audio books and original novels can be found here: Big Finish B7 Hub

Photograph of Louise Jameson and Paul Darrow courtesy of Big Finish



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