the Valeyard had won?
The thing about meddling with time is that one moment something is real, the next, it's been erased. Probability become just a possibility. Established truth becomes a theoretical falsehood. Like dominoes, as one timeline falls, the others come cascading down around it. You can engineer new timelines, new possibilities but before long, the distinction between what is, what was, what might be and what never can be becomes blurred.
Out of this grow myths, lies and legends. The Doctor was one such legend, but no one knows whether he truly ever existed. Well, not now they don't. The Mighty One, ruling the multiverses from the eternal city of Chronopolis has made sure of that.
Michael Jayston (The Valeyard); Bonnie Langford (Melanie Bush); Anthony Keetch (Coordinator Vansell); Tim Preece (The President); Juliet Warner (Ellie Martin); Jane McFarlane (Nula); Mark Donovan (Gerrof); Gary Russell (Pakhar / Tannoy Voice / Matrix Voice)
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I was really looking forward to this one. I love the Valeyard and anything that offers more of him thrills me. (I loved Amy's Choice just because it *could* be the Valeyard.) But this... This is not the Valeyard. Michael Jayston gives it his all, and at times he can be quite entertaining, but he's heavily lumbered by a character that just acts in preposterous ways. He has no particular plan, very little motivation, he's as cardboard cut out as you can be. He wants to collect every superweapon the Doctor has hidden away to gain godlike power. And along the way he's tinkering with the timeline for his own amusement. It's an abject waste of the Valeyard - The whole point of the Valeyard is that he IS the Doctor, or a part of him. But he acts here without any of the Doctor's understanding or sanity, and his motivation is desperately lacking in nuance or depth.
The cast is universally held back by some pretty terrible dialogue, though at times the strength of the performers manages to carry it. Jayston manages to snatch a few good moments and Bonnie Langford basically keeps things listenable with her performance, the only really decent aspect of the play. She's great as a time-worn, hard hearted Mel.
The plot is clunky and disappointing. It references masses of continuity but fails to actually extract anything from it, coming off as simply indulgent. The actions of the Time Lords are pretty hard to credit too. Things are redeemed a little by the ending, which has a genuinely tragic edge (and Michael Jayston finally gets to flourish). Unfortunately the rest of the play fails to back it up.
It's not terrible, but it's greatly disappointing, ultimately failing to deliver a satisfying answer to its 'what if' premise. 5/10