Lady Summerisle (strange_complex) wrote,
Lady Summerisle

Doctor Who audio drama: The Stones of Venice (Big Finish Productions 2001)

I finally finished painting the back bedroom just in time for redkitty23 and Vincent's visit last weekend, and I must say it looks very splendid now. It is the only room in the house that's actually in a colour-scheme I have chosen, although I will gradually be moving more of them in the same direction as time goes on. The previous owners were clearly a lot keener on blues and greens than I am, whereas I think that creams, biscuits and mushrooms are more the way to go for a house like this (a view forged mainly via extensive watching of Poirot and Jeeves and Wooster). So that is what I have done, and I find it much more warm and inviting now.

Anyway, while finishing the job, I notched up one more Eighth Doctor audio. I'd heard the last two episodes of this one previously on Radio 7 and been impressed, so it was nice to come back and fill in the rest.

Eighth Doctor: The Stones of Venice
This story really exemplifies what I think Who does best: taking a rich established mythology, and using the Doctor Who format to play around with it and explore it. The setting (surprise, surprise) is Venice - allegedly in the 23rd century, but that is only really so that the somewhat fantastical events of the story don't contradict known Earth history. The characters, their society and their motivations and reactions would all fit equally well in the city's Renaissance heyday.

The story is all about myths and legends, hinging around the mysterious figure of Estella, and just what it was that had really happened to her a hundred years before the Doctor and Charley arrive. Venice suits that semi-fairytale ambience very well, and the script references dozens of similarly romantic stories just enough to set off its own to good effect, but not so much as to become oppressive. I noticed while listening that the characters of Eleanor Lavish and the Duke Orsino were named after literary predecessors, while a bit of Googling afterwards revealed a whole host of other tributes, including the title of the story itself.

Venice's unique landscape is very nicely evoked - I especially liked a line about how you can never find the same route twice, because the sea-fog 'comes in at night and corrupts the topography of the city'. Based on my visit last December, I could well believe that!

Meanwhile, I warmed to Charley a little more than I had done on my previous experiences with her. Perhaps it's because her initial over-done eagerness to travel in Storm Warning and all-too-quick adjustment to space travel in The Sword of Orion don't apply now that she has moved into established companion mode, so I can concentrate on her core character. For all that, she does still seem a bit generic - I haven't really heard her do anything particularly personalising or outstanding in any way yet.

And, alas for her, I won't until I'm next doing something which gives me a particular cause to listen to audio stories. Still, I definitely enjoyed this one, and it's a thread I'll continue to pursue at some point in the future.

Tags: audio dramas, doctor who, e.m. forster, eight, grove lane, painting, shakespeare, venice

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