Cast: Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson, Sarah Sutton, Cherie Lunghi, Sam Dastor, Neil Stacy, Vincent Ebrahim, Vineeta Rishi, Gwilym Lee. Trevor Cooper, Benedict Briggs.
Barnaby Edwards’s latest story for Big Finish, The Emerald Tiger sees the classic fifth doctor, played by the seemingly ever youthful Peter Davison, continuing his adventures with the iconic team of Tegan, Vislor Turlough and Nyssa.
Last seen in 2011’s Heroes of Sontar, the Tardis time-travellers, after 30 years since their appearance in the television series, still bicker like children or rather well-meaning siblings. There in lays the crutch of why these three argumentative friends, portrayed by the brilliant Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson and the demure Sarah Sutton are considered by some to be the pinnacle of the Doctor’s companions.
What makes this particular Doctor so well loved by fans can be summed up in one word-compassion. No other Doctor seems to hold his friends in the same high esteem or with much love as the fifth. Up until the new series had taken hold on the British public’s imagination had audiences and fans of the show seen the Doctor give his life to save a friend as Peter Davison’s did in his final television appearance of The Caves of Androzani. Since then it has been the ‘norm’ to witness the Doctor allow himself to die and regenerate rather than a friend die. Think of David Tennant’s blistering performance in The End of Time where he saves Wilf from radiation poisoning and you will get the idea.
The Emerald Tiger sees a wonderful cast take on what could be termed as hybridization of Kipling’s wonderful Jungle Book and Blake’s celebrated poem The Tiger. Somewhere in the forests of India lurks a legend, one as old as time and one that helps to heal and this time it is not the Doctor.
The play utilises the enormous talent on offer and certainly the inclusion of Cheri Lunghi and Trevor Cooper gives The Emerald Tiger an impetuous that was somewhat missing from the previous three audios missing from the peter Davison arc of stories.
Cheri Lunghi gives possibly her best performance in years as Lady Adela Forster. Its roles such as this where she excels and makes her fans yearn for the days when meaty roles were given to her almost as a right. Her performance was capped and polished as you would expect but it was her dynamic attitude alongside Trevor Cooper as Colonel Burroughs. The fall of the British Empire can be traced to people such as the Colonel as the Doctor points out.
The Emerald Tiger is a fascinating insight into a world where culture and myth clash, Kipling would be proud.
The Emerald Tiger can be bought from Worlds Apart, Lime Street, Liverpool.
Ian D. Hall