Luna Romana by Matt Fitton reviewed

Luna Romana coverMatt Fitton wound up the story of Quadrigger Stoyn in January’s double-CD Companion Chronicle release Luna Romana. Intended for Mary Tamm this story concludes the story of Terry Molloy’s accidental traveller with not one but three versions of the most famous female Time Lord with Lalla Ward and Juliet Landau (Drusilla in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as the various incarnations.

How well does this live up to the promise of the theme introduced in The Beginning and continued in Dying Light and just what is the Fourth Doctor up to in ancient Rome?

The story

The summary on the Big Finish product page is but the tip of a very convoluted iceberg:

The search for the final segment of the Key to Time takes the Doctor and the First Romana to Ancient Rome. The Time Lady is appalled when her companion prefers to watch the latest Plautus comedy rather than complete their mission, and is even less delighted to meet the playwright himself.

But all is not what it seems, either on-stage or behind the scenes…

In the far, far future, the Second Romana is destined to have her own encounter with a legacy of Rome, but Stoyn has been waiting. And his actions will set Romana on a collision course with her own past.

Quadrigger Stoyn wants his final revenge on the Doctor, and only Romana stands in his way.

Both of her.

The actual story is complex in terms of looping around through time and multiple versions of many of the main characters: it compares to The Wrong Doctors for timey-wimeyness (such a horrible phrase) but is substantially easier to follow. That isn’t to say it’s entirely straightforward.

We start with a future Romana (and an interesting debate on the BF Forum as to which one) reminiscing about her time with the Doctor. She is on Gallifrey decommissioning a Quadrigger station and recalls when she met Quadrigger Stoyn in more than one of her past incarnations.

Cut to Ancient Rome where the first Romana (now voiced as a memory by Juliet Landau) and the Fourth Doctor are diverted in their journey for the final segment of the Key to Time. They end up watching a play which Romana loses interest in so goes exploring. She encounters a mysterious hidden chamber which holds a device at whose heart appears to be a segment of the Key to Time; she also encounters a Time Lord who styles himself as Janus who lives as six connected but partly dissociated fragments. It is of course Stoyn who tricks Romana into allowing him into the TARDIS then steals it!

We cut to the second Romana who, with the Doctor, ends up on Earth’s moon in the far future. Here they encounter the Quadrigger Stoyn who survived Dying Light who is looking back in time over the Doctor’s incarnations. After a struggle, Stoyn falls into the broken time viewed and falls back into the past to, yes you guessed it, live through events we have only just seen. As if this wasn’t enough another Romana II appears to tell herself to nip back in time following Stoyn.

The story progresses with many time loops, paradoxes and other temporal shenanigans before the final confrontation when Stoyn gets to discharge centuries of accumulated solar energy through the Doctor and Romana and wiping Earth’s history away. Needless to say Romana saves the day.

The story telling

Although twisted in time this is an easier listen than The Wrong Doctors as we have different actors playing different Romanas. There are several touching moments where we look back at Mary Tamm’s Romana and these are very well done and remind us without dwelling over long.

Terry Molloy has a tremendous time as Stoyn and shows great range in his acting. Juliet Landau’s Romana ??? has also made a mark and many forum visitors are keen to know if she will re-appear.

The Quadrigger arc

The idea of linking stories back to the moment of departure from Gallifrey is interesting and the device of the Story character is creative. I don’t feel that the middle story added much but three parts does feel right to make an arc. This final part ran over two discs and also felt to be of the correct length. Bracketing with the First and Fourth Doctor’s may have been driven by availability rather than design but isn’t a bad idea.

I do feel that Stoyn suffered a lot and in the final analysis is more victim than villain. He did though fail to take any advantage of his enforced exile which brought out his worst features.

Final thoughts

So, goodbye to Stoyn (probably though who’s to say he won’t yet cause trouble for any other Doctor or companion?) and that’s the end of the 50th anniversary celebrations. I think a swift round of applause is in order.

What say you?

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