Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 4/12/17 4:09 am
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In The Jago & Litefoot Revival, Act Two, following Henry Gordon Jago's (Christopher Benjamin) brilliant cliffhanger, Jago and Professor George Litefoot (Trevor Baxter) continue their two tales of their encounter with the Doctor to the Club For Curious Scientific Men. With Jago at the mercy of the spider alien, while Litefoot is face to face with some mysterious alien gunslingers. But along the way, the two men will discover something about their old friend with the new face, and find a way to kick start their career once again. The Jago & Litefoot Revival, Act Two continues on from last month's story, and completing the story in a satisfying, if slightly disappointing way. With two great performances by Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter, a delightful cameo towards the end, and a fun romp, written well by Jonathan Barnes, the latest entry in the Short Trips range is a delight to hear.
The eponymous Jago & Litefoot are once again played by Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter. Baxter takes more of a lead here once again, with Benjamin taking the opportunity to interject here and there. Baxter is very self-assured as Professor George Litefoot here, steering the story very well, while giving hilarious asides on several occasions. It's always nice to hear the excellent "straight man" performance from Baxter, a role he plays so well. Benjamin is also quite fun here as Henry Gordon Jago; he takes on a smaller role here, but one that's no less memorable. He interjects his own asides into the story at any given opportunity, and takes over narration during his scenes. Benjamin has always had excellent timing with his jokes, but it's the way that he delivers his lines that really stands out here. Lesser actors would trip over the thesaurus-like lines that Jago has to deliver, but Benjamin takes it in stride. But what works best about the play is the excellent chemistry between Benjamin and Baxter; the two work so well together, and make any play they're part of soar when the focus is on them. To cap off this story, Big Finish introduced a third person to the play, an unprecedented feat, as director Lisa Bowerman cameoed as barmaid Ellie nearly the end of the story. It was short, and I was half-expecting it throughout, but it made for an excellent little ending to the story.
Jonathan Barnes delivered another corking script for The Jago & Litefoot Revival, Act Two. While it wasn't able to quite live up to the first part, in my opinion, it was still an excellent story, one of the best to come out of the Short Trips range. I quite liked the way that the story was framed, with both Jago and Litefoot separately encountering the same Doctor, countries apart. The story between Jago and the Gentleman of the Dice at the Regency was a bit more interesting to me, as it felt like a more full arc, with a satisfying ending. Litefoot's story on the Greek coast with the gunslingers felt a little underwhelming, especially with the ending, to be quite honest, though it certainly had it's moments. What I liked most about the script was the way first time Jago & Litefoot writer Barnes captured the tone of the series so well. The script was filled with fantastic little jokes, verbose lines for Benjamin to chew on, and a stellar bit of comedic writing throughout. Even if the ending of the story was a bit of a letdown, this story is a triumph, because Barnes knew exactly how to write this story, making it seem like he's written for them before effortlessly. I also quite liked the way that Barnes wrote the scenes for the Tenth Doctor (as well as the small cameo scene for the Eleventh Doctor near the end of the play), as I felt that it remained true to the character, and showed a deep understanding the character. The scene where he describes Ten doubling over in pain, and describing what's going to happen to him was a small, yet powerful little scene, that I really enjoyed from this script.
Now that we have the full story, I wanted to look at how it works as a full play. It actually works extremely well as a full play, delivering a strong narrative throughout. Obviously, the cast and the superb writing by Jonathan Barnes remains more or less static, but the story itself takes on a different shape when listened to together. This could've very easily been a disaster, with listeners having to wait to hear the second part of the story. But the way it was told made it feel like a two-parter, and it really built my excitement for the second part. But beyond that aspect of it, it was a really strong hour-long story through and through. It's often the case that many Short Trips releases could do with an extra 30 minutes of story. Well, here we finally got that, and it turned out to be a smart move. The change to breathe throughout the story let the story focus on being as funny as possible, and staying as true to the quality of Jago & Litefoot, which really elevated the story.
Overall, The Jago & Litefoot Revival, Act Two was a strong ending to this experimental Short Trips story. The cast was superb, featuring two excellent performances by Big Finish royalty Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter. The script was surprisingly strong, barring the slightly disappointing ending. Combining the elements that made Jago & Litefoot so popular with some excellent elements from the New Series, this release soars throughout. Barnes delivered a tight, funny, and informed script for these two stories, which translated into a wonderful hour of story for Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot.