Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Green Eyed Monsters written by Dave Stone and directed by Gary Russell

What’s it about: It isn't all fun for a new mum. Not only do you have to deal with the lack of sleep, the occasional embarrassing leak and the constant round of unexploded nappies - you have to deal with a couple of testeronically-charged idiots who won't get it through their skulls that you don't want either of them to be the Dad. Even though one of them technically is. So when Benny gets the chance to skip off for a while, heading into a Goronos System packed with duplicity and peril to authenticate certain highly significant artefacts and totems, she doesn't have to think twice. Only, sometimes, as she'll learn, when heading into duplicity and peril, it's not a good idea to leave a hostage to fortune behind ...

Archaeological Adventuress: Making Bernice a mother was probably the best thing Big Finish could have done with the character. We’ve seen her enjoying (or probably not so much considering the amount of torture, both emotionally and physically she has suffered) her travels with the Doctor and fall in love and get married. The next logical and emotional step was to see how she coped with motherhood. Except Big Finish deal with this life changing experience with far more sensitivity and aplomb than Virgin did with her marriage (it was basically Happy Endings, one peek at her domestic bliss and then the messy divorce). So they decide to bring back Jason and actually explore their relationship over several seasons and anthologies and see how she copes with bringing a life into this world. Here its played for laughs but there will be many times ahead where Bernice suffers the painful reality of protecting her own. The bond between mother and son is so intense and it really makes Bernice a more rounded character.

Her all new, all singing, all dancing diary! She doesn’t want to be remembered by just a load of tatty old notebooks. She’s making the diary for Peter so he can remember her if anything does happen to her. Wasn’t quite herself when she fell pregnant – the only chance Adrian had with her was when she wasn’t even in her own body? The first time in her life when she wants to exclaim MEN with an exclamation mark! She has a rebuilt Mechanoid that can’t even murder people when she wants it too! I love how Bernice tells Peter that he has destroyed her life and she hates him in a cute voice! Decides she’s had enough of all this domestic madness and dumps Peter on her two fellas and heads off to sort out the poobar going on on Goronos. Bernice is asked if she wants a big bottle of liquor or a completely meaningless sexual encounter as if those are the only two things she cares about! Sometimes you just can’t predict what she will do. She has been trying to cut down on liquor of late. Bernice copes without even thinking about it. If she ever mentions the words artefact or totem again she gives Joseph the expression permission to have her taken out an shot.

The Two Dads: Left holding the baby whilst Bernice swans off! If there are two people who Bernice trusts to the end its Jason and Adrian. The simplest thing like feeding him is a nightmare for the two of them! Adrian lands up in the poop. Adrian starts to understand why his people don’t have anything to do with kids! Benny leaving the baby with them is the perfect demonstration of what a couple of spare tossers they are in her life! I really like that Dave Stone reminds the audience of Jason’s abusive childhood…it would return to haunt him time and again as the series continues. Jason wangles his way in with the underworld scum with effortless ease. I love their good cop/bad cop routine with Sloughty; they actually make quite an effective pair of thugs! Adrian has something inside, inbuilt that attracts him to Bernice because his people mate for life – the switch has been thrown. The body is still there walking around with Benny in it and sometimes it is hard to control himself, although he never wants her to know. The one thing that kept Jason going was Bernice whilst he was away – there’s a whole part of him that still considers her his wife and he cannot forget that.

Standout Performance: Stephen Wickham voices Joseph and he is just the sweetest character. I rather think that Maria Darling thoroughly enjoyed her turn as the Lady Ashantra, such a wonderfully theatrical and ridiculous character (‘Infamy! Have you any idea of how you’ll pay for such…’). There’s some lovely chemistry between Harry Myers and Stephen Fewell, I hope they force the two of them together again soon.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Of course you realise Jason that if she didn’t know the baby was in danger in the first place she’s gonna kill the both of us!’ ‘Benny! If you thought Peter was in danger then he’s perfectly safe! If you didn’t know anything about that then there is nothing going on at all and you should forget everything I just said!’ ‘You know Jason you really can be a complete prat at times…’
‘You went down like a collapsing brick shithouse!’

Great Ideas: Killoran males don’t usually have anything to do with their offspring, they leave it all to the females. The second Jason and Adrian get Peter to sleep the baby is kidnapped! Not a single artefact that would fool a blind man and his dog…they don’t want what Bernice thinks, they just want her.

Audio Landscape: Joseph floating, Peter gurgling, door knocking, shuttle taking off, Benny runs a lovely steamy bath, the gambling establishment on the Collection,

Musical Cues: Hahaha! What a brilliant piss take of Adventure is my Game! ‘I can’t imagine what I was thinking?’ Awww, lovely lullaby music as Bernice tries to soothe Peter.

Standout Scene: The end credits are hysterical…music/scream/row/brawl…

Isn’t it Odd: Oh no! After the story that I thoroughly enjoyed…a trailer for The Rapture! Argh!

Notes: The first appearance of Jason in the original Bernice Audio Adventures since he returned in the novel The Infernal Nexus. The covers for this series are extrordinarily good, take a look at the one for The Green Eyed Monsters - I love Adrian Salmon's unique spiky art and bold colours.

Result: Who would have thought that Bernice Summerfield would work so well as a soap opera? Benny taken over by an evil sorceress, humping overgrown gorilla Adrian Wall, heavily pregnant and winding up in prison, forced to give birth with her greatest enemy close by…and now leaving the two Dads holding the baby and Peter being kidnapped and held to ransom! It’s certainly not a quiet life for Bernice! Green Eyed Monsters dips its toes into sitcom waters and continues series three’s magic touch, it’s funny and touching and reveals much about Bernice, Jason and Adrian. Dave Stone talks about how audio doesn’t have to be big blockbusting productions but the exploration of relations and the nuances of interaction and to his credit he goes ahead and proves that in superb style: 8/10

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