“Ah, I see you’re a pimp; no I don’t want to fornicate.”
By Will Barber – Taylor
The Minister of Chance has to find the Sage of the Waves before The Horseman, meanwhile in Sezuan, Durian’s devious plans come to fruition and the assault of Science becomes more apparent.
Squelching mud, eerie sounds and a church bell ominously ringing followed by the intro music – this is how to start an audio drama. From the very first moment of episode three, “The Minister of Chance” is already building up the tension. We have comedy yes, but it is very dark almost as though coming events are affecting the atmosphere. In the words of the Sixth Doctor Big Finish audio “The Juggernauts”,
“It’s all a bit eerie, isn’t it?”
Eerie does not start to cover the menacing atmosphere that the great team behind “The Minister of Chance” have cooked up. From the dark political corridors of Sezuan to the marshlands of Paludin Field, Dan Freeman (the writer) and Clare Eden (executive producer) have concocted a very visual landscape which you can almost see as you listen to the drama. With Chris Mock’s sound editing skills the whole thing comes out truthfully and it is a joy to listen to the effects alone.
What of the performances though? You can have good sound and writing but what about the acting? It does not disappoint. From Julian Wadham’s, Minister down to George A. Murphy’s, Pimp, the whole cast are believable. I am always listening for wooden acting – it is a pet hate of mine. Unusually, I found it hard to pick out a performance to criticise. The whole cast were truthful to their parts. Instead, I shall talk about the strengths of the actors and how excellent they were. Paul McGaan’s, Durian shone through, ranging from Bolingbroke to Macbeth. The charisma of the character was excellent and worked as a wonderful dichotomy to Sylvester Mcoy’s, Witch Prime who was not very charming and willing to go to any lengths to keep his position of power. The chemistry between the characters worked very well together to portray the political side of The Minister’s world.
Meanwhile, Tamsin Greig’s, Sage of the Waves worked excellently with Lauren Crace’s, Kitty creating a moral atmosphere as opposed to the dark power, grasping atmosphere of the McGaan and Mcoy scenes. Greig’s Sage’s pessimistic attitude to life and the whole “We’re all going to die anyway, so what’s the point?” contrasted nicely with Crace’s, Kitty which demonstrated that life is worth fighting for and change should happen.
Of course, the star of the show is Julian Wadham as The Minister. His Minister is very Doctorish, particularly very Pertweeian which helps very much with this type of story. He is the great Timelord trapped on what many would call a back water planet. Wadham also adds a touch of, ironically, McGaanness to his portrayal of The Minister, making him a mix between Pertwee’s dandy rogue trapped forever on some blighted planet and McGaan’s, English gentleman. All in all, there are fabulous performances from everyone involved. I highly recommend the first scene which is set in the pub, it reminds me very much of a similar scene in “The Daemons”.
The Minister of Chance takes us on a journey of political drama and action adventure. It provokes thoughts of morality and the importance of science. In conclusion, it is wonderful drama to sit and listen to in a dark room with the lights off. All I can say is – bring on the next episode!