The Curse of the Fugue reviewed

Short Trips The Curse of the Fugure coverApril 2016, the return of Sheridan Smith as Lucie Miller in the Alice Cavender Short Trip; The Curse of the Fugue. Wonderful as it is to hear Sheridan voicing Lucie once more, does this story justify the excitement?

Short answer: yes; long answer: keep reading…

The story

The summary on the Big Finish product page has plenty to tell us:

February 1974 is grimmer than usual for the British. Huddling together by candlelight the nation endures regular power cuts, however the situation is far worse for one old woman. Out of the dark come visitors who know of her terrible burden of wartime secrets. All she fought to save is threatened. Whom can she trust? The troubled ghosts which plague her, a young man who has befriended her, or her new carer Lucie and her strange friend, The Doctor?

The setting of a care home during the power cuts of 1974 is a vivid one, and add to this a woman with secrets from World War II, and mysterious ghosts and the result is plenty to distract the listener. The story starts with Lucie and takes time to build before the Doctor leaps in on the hunt for the latest MacGuffin. The old woman at the centre of the story is well sculpted and the story has plenty in to easily fill the half hour or so allocated. Difficult decisions are made but we still have time for plenty of banter.

It wouldn’t take a lot to turn this into a one-hour Companion Chronicles style piece. Alice Cavender previously wrote two Subscriber Short Trips for Lucie and the Eighth Doctor and keeps up the quality with this tale.

The storytelling

If there is a weakness with The Curse of the Fugue (and ignoring its brevity), it is the lack of Paul McGann. Once we get used to Sheridan as narrator, we want to hear her and Paul interact. Sheridan does a good job of acting as though Lucie is talking to the Doctor, but we are used to hearing them together. This is unfair on the format, as Short Trips are what they are.

As she showed in previous stories Alice Cavender has an ear for Lucie’s character and the dialogue is spot on, and the tale gets to the interactions between characters, rather than focussing overmuch on the period or the peril. For a richly set out story this is a shame, and I do feel there is plenty more this story could have addressed. Really though it all promises well for the future. I hope we get more chance to hear Alice’s work in future, and while we know Sheridan will be back in Andrew Smith’s Flashpoint, let’s all hope we get even more opportunities to have Lucie back again. Before we get too excited, let’s also not forget just how busy Sheridan is these days.

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