Between Deadbeat Escape and Goodbye Piccadilly there’s a vast difference in style and together they provide just a glimpse into the versatility of writer (and range producer) James Goss. This time we have a dark, brooding tale of rain and strange hotels. It also puts Billis Manger (Murray Melvin) centre stage.
First the synopsis:
“Welcome to the Traveller’s Halt. You’re in luck – we have one room left. My name is Bilis Manger. Let me show you to your room.”
We learn a lot about clocks in this story, and on most levels it isn’t a Torchwood story at all, but one set in that universe with one of the characters, the time aware villain Billis Manger. Forcing one of the Torchwood team into this tale would have been a mistake, and James has set out a tale with sinister purpose and dark ending, with no pesky heroes to survive or win the day.
Instead we have random traveller Hywel Roberts (the excellent Gareth Pierce) in what is almost a two-hander, barring some scenes with hotel resident Grace, played by Cara Chase. Poor Hywel checks into the Traveller’s Halt and is soon suffering in a way only those who’ve been subjected to a certain sort of hotel will know. I digress: I used to travel a lot for work including in the UK, from the mid 1980s. British hotels used to have a well-deserved reputation for not being that good. Whereas today yo have Premier Inn in every town, I’ve stayed in any number of rooms with low ceilings, traffic noise, ticking clocks, bright lights creeping under doors and so forth. I’ve spent many desperate hours trying to sleep.
Back to Hywel whose night is punctuated by dripping taps and mysterious goings on a plenty. It’s very well put together and director Scott Handcock helps the cast make this yet another top-notch production.
Great sound design (Richard Fox and Lauren Yason) complete the package along with Blair Mowat’s music.
It really is rather good!