Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 10/22/17 2:22 am
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In A Kill to View, Mr. Colchester (Paul Clayton) and his husband, Colin (Ramon Tikram) have moved into a new building of luxury flats: the Ritz Towers. Purported to be the safest place in all of Cardiff, Mr. Colchester is happy to protect the love of his life. But all is not as it seems in the Ritz Towers. Tenants don't move out of the Ritz Towers, there are constant invitations to dinner parties by guests, and throughout the building, a creepy caretaker unsettles the guests. Colchester brought his husband to the Ritz Towers to be safe; but with events spiraling out of control, no one in the city may be safe by night's end. A Kill to a View is a charming look into the life of Paul Clayton's excellent Mr. Colchester, marking the return of Murray Melvin as Bilis Manger as well. It's the kind of story Torchwood tells best, about the awful nature of humanity and their desire to help themselves above all others, told extremely well by Big Finish newcomer Mac Rogers. The three main stars, Paul Clayton, Ramon Tikram, and Murray Melvin all shine in this story in their respectively roles, elevated by some excellent dialogue by Rogers for the story. Overall, it's an excellent look at the home life of one of the more enigmatic Torchwood members, and an affecting, horrific story.
Paul Clayton is the star of this story, as the civil servant turned Torchwood member Mr. Colchester. Clayton has nearly always stolen every scene he's involved with as Colchester, and, while he faces stiff competition from his co-stars Ramon Tikram and Murray Melvin, this story is no exception. Clayton gives a lot of depth to his performance here; we've not really seen much of his private life, if any of it, and we've certainly almost never seen him more than dryly witty and sardonic. But the highlights of Clayton's performance throughout the six stories I've heard has always been the more vulnerable moments; the moments where Orr discusses Colchester and his husband's relationship in Orr, and the previous story's moment as Colchester tries to save Orr, looking out for her. Here, we get to see Colchester at his softest, in several affecting moments with his husband. Clayton is a highlight in a small scene where the two are in bed, discussing the day, and the final scene as Colchester holds Colin's hand as he passes out from his wound. Clayton shows a lot of emotion in those scenes, solidifying him as one of the best things to come out of Big Finish's Torchwood ranges.
Ramon Tikram and Murray Melvin both guest star in this story, with Tikram appearing as Colchester's much-beloved husband, Colin, and Melvin reprising his role as Bilis Manger, former servant of Abaddon, now caretaker for the Ritz Towers. Tikram is a delight as the, "gay, Muslim husband" Colin, taking the role, and running with it quite a bit. He takes the role head-on, crafting a deep character who has a lot of similarities to Rhys and his relationship with Gwen. He's worried for his husband, and he also is frustrated by the way that he often doesn't show up on time, but Colin, through it all, still deeply loves Mr. Colchester, and is willing to forgive him, regardless. Tikram really sells the deep love that his character shares with Mr. Colchester, especially in their interactions at the end of the story, as he forgives his husband for being unable to keep him safe. That final scene is a powerful moment for Tikram, and the best of the set so far. My only hope is that that scene isn't Colin dying, but simply him lapsing into unconsciousness. Melvin also returns as Bilis Manger, the unsettling former servant of Abaddon, now caretaker and puppet master for the events occurring at the Ritz Towers. Melvin really sells the unsettling aspect of Manger, popping up unexpectedly with a grandiose, sweeping gesture of welcome, but with a sinister undertone to the line. He's at his best when he's letting hints of his plan slip to taunt Colin and Colchester, and is absolutely brilliant when he's explaining the horrors of the Ritz Towers to Colchester.
Mac Rogers, a first time Big Finish writer, delivers a fascinating script, marking both the return of Bilis Manger and the appearance of Colchester's husband, as well as delivering a distinctly Torchwood story, filled with horror, aliens, and the worst aspects of humanity. Rogers has a lot of balls to juggle in this story, but manages to do so exceedingly well, building a disturbingly creepy story to start. I found the "game" that Manger had the tenants playing in the story, that of killing their neighbors to get a better flat, to be a truly horrific idea, and a really nice idea, akin to Countrycide. There's a great moment too, at the end, as Mr. Colchester explains to Sandra (Diveen Henry) that no matter how high they go, there will always be a better flat, and that it will never end, and I think that that truly sums up the horrors of humanity in this story. The people of this story, from Andrea (Ellie Heydon) and Sandra, to Rowan (Luke Rhodri) and Poppy (Charlotte O'Leary), and even to Duncan (Ewan Bailey), reprising his role from the first story, are all willing to kill just to get ahead and get a better flat, or a better chance in life. The scene where Duncan tearfully explains that he can't go back out on the streets, because it's not safe out there shows just how horrific the hotel is.
Beyond just the excellent, horrific story, there was an even better bit of character work done for Mr. Colchester and his husband, Colin. This story is very clearly the story of those two characters. Other characters, such as John Barrowman's Jack, Jonny Green's Tyler, and more, all appear briefly throughout the story, but never as anything other than something to spur along Mr. Colchester's story. Even the subplot, a Sorvix hostage situation, is unimportant to the main story. This is the story that builds up the relationship of an intensely private man, and gives us a glimpse at his life beyond Torchwood. And it's a fascinating look; it's quite lovely to see a lovely relationship in Torchwood, often a show that tears down relationships and shows how they can never be together truly. So it's heartening to see such a strong relationship on the show, and one that's developed so well. The character of Colchester is given an incredible amount of backstory, especially with the revelation that he simply wishes to protect his husband, no matter the cost. It shows a deep love for Colin, but also informs many of Colchester's actions throughout the previous five stories, such as his care for his teammates, particularly Orr. I feel that with this story, I can really appreciate the story a lot more.
Overall, A Kill to a View is a shocking, brutal story about a hotel that is not all it seems, but underneath the surface is a rather beautiful character piece for Mr. Colchester, that reveals quite a bit about his personality and motivations. Paul Clayton is the definitive star of this show, stealing every scene he's in, as he's given a chance to show off some of his excellent range, and really develop his character. Ramon Tikram and Murray Melvin guest star in this set, in two excellent performances; Tikram as the loving husband, Colin Colchester-Price, and Melvin as his unsettling, sinister Bilis Manger. First time Big Finish writer Mac Rogers delivered a powerful story, with some great character work, and a truly horrifc story, that promises to lead into something interesting, given the ending of the story. It's a story that matches the quality of the previous set's Orr, if not surpassing it.