When I first read of the return of Yvonne Hartman (Tracy-Ann Oberman) in the Big Finish Torchwood range I was impressed and intrigued. I happened to chat to Scott Handcock and James Goss at Big Finish Day 7, and it was clear this had been an enjoyable recording, and Tracy-Ann had played her part to the hilt.
Did this translate to a great story, what happens when London meets Cardiff, was it well directed (by Barnaby Edwards)? You bet!
First here’s what Big Finish had to say on the product page:
It’s been three weeks since the Mayor of Cardiff was killed by a shop dummy and the fight is on to see who will replace him.
Yvonne Hartman is visiting the city to retrieve an invaluable alien device. She’s in charge of Torchwood One, she’s saving the British Empire and she doesn’t care about local politics. But she is going to find herself caught up in that fight. There’s a bloodthirsty alien stalking the streets and there’s a special offer on at the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet.
It’s the 26th of March 2005 and it’s the day that everything changes
Taking a quick tour round Torchwood Three without disturbing the pre-TV series team, Yvonne Hartman is a woman on a mission. That mission transcends basics such as fair play, instead focussing on outcomes. Yvonne cares little for who becomes the Mayor of Cardiff, as long as she has them in her pocket. As the evening progresses tensions rise and Yvonne more and more realises Cardiff isn’t London. The Committee is involved, but not in a way that takes centre stage, instead our glamorous heroine has to hope either Barry Jackson (Gareth Armstron) or Helen Evans (Rebecca Lacey). By the end we don’t care about either mayoral candidate, and we learn a lot more about how ruthless Yvonne can be.
[pullquote]…hit the jackpot[/pullquote]
Tracy-Ann Oberman’s performance is to be enjoyed. As the story builds and she is mistaken for a drag queen, survives being thrown up all over and various alien threats it is all wonderful. This is set against a bleak Cardiff with several anti-London chips on its shoulders and captures a modern-Dickensian feel (as it arguably should given the Doctor Who story Unquiet Dead).
There are many wonderful touches: Yvonne keeps phoning back to her assistant Ianto in London, at one point two police constables (Cooper and Davidson) are ordered around just off-stage and so on. The whole piece is dark, gritty and funny. Joe Lidster deserves enormous amounts of credit and in some ways this is where James Goss and Scott Handcock have hit the jackpot with the Torchwood audio range. Yes we want Jack, Gwen, Ianto and the others, of course we do. It does, though, take a centre class of production team to bring back Yvonne, who let’s not forget was not in the Torchwood TV series, and let her rock.
Highly recommended and worth at least two listens!