Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 8/12/17 6:18 pm
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In the penultimate story, Orr, Torchwood is drawn into a conflict between Vincent Parry (David Sibley) and Ro-Jedda (Rachel Atkins). The two were originally allies, but once Parry discovered that Ro-Jedda was an alien, he balked at the deal, and wants Torchwood to save him from her wrath. But when he's murdered, leaving behind his wife, Torchwood must work to save Catrin Parry (Sam Béart) from death; even as that brings them into an encounter with an alien they know all too well. Orr is Juno Dawson's second Big Finish contribution, after this year's The Dollhouse, another Torchwood release. This story is her first time using the established Torchwood team though, and Dawson knocks it out of the park, with a sweet story about love. While it doesn't end in the most satisfying of ways, that's more than made up for by the insights into the Torchwood team throughout. Sam Béart is the star of the story, giving a brilliant performance, that the other main actors, John Barrowman, Paul Clayton, and Jonny Green, all feed off of to make for a wonderfully realized performance of Dawson's tight script.
Sam Béart stars in this story as ostensibly the wife of Vincent Parry, Catrin Parry. However, the story reveals her to be a genetic experiment known as Orr, who's able to subconsciously adapt her appearance to match the desires of those she's interacting with. What this excellent creation by Dawson leads to is a brilliant character for Béart to play, and play her she definitely does. She does a brilliant job with the role; she's simultaneously having fun with the absurdity of it, while also selling the hell out of the quieter moments. I particularly loved the interactions she had with Paul Clayton about Mr. Colchester's feelings for his husband, and her interactions at the end with John Barrowman's Jack Harkness about, presumably, Ianto and his feelings towards his deceased lover. That scene in particular is a beautiful, sweet performance by Béart, highlighting the talents of a brilliant actor.
John Barrowman, Paul Clayton, and Jonny Green all return from the previous stories in this set. Barrowman and Green both largely sat out the last story, so their return here is welcome. All three of these actors' characters have some excellent interactions with Béart's Orr that reveal something interesting about them all, which are some of the highlights of this brilliant story. I found the interactions between Clayton's and Béart's characters to be rather fun; it was sweet to learn that Mr. Colchester still finds his husband to be the object of his desires, and the reveal that it's the form of his husband from 10 years ago adds a little bit of uncomfortable humor into the story. It's lovely to hear the unflappable Clayton flustered here in this story. But the most interesting reaction was certainly Jonny Green's Tyler Steele, and his reaction to seeing a past lover, Damien, come forth. A lot of this scene's power is owed to Béart, who is horrified that Tyler cheated on Damien out of paranoia, but it's Tyler's reaction to it that really sells the scene; he is genuinely terrified of her in that moment, and it shows in Green's performance.
Juno Dawson, in her second time in the writer's chair for Big Finish, wrote an excellent story about love and gender fluidity. It's an unabashedly political story, the norm for this set, and I can't help but love it for that. But even without that, it's still a powerful story about love, the people who matter to you most, and what they do to you. Orr is a relatively simple creation, but is inherently so complex at the same time. A creature that changes it's form to be something so pleasing to you isn't exactly new, but Dawson is able to differentiate Orr from those other impressions by making it unintentional. This small changes begets a great story, as the changes made by Orr are often in reaction to the other characters, not an intentional thing. But what really clinches the deal is the ability for Orr to inherently understand exactly what's going through their heads. It's not her being psychic, but her innate ability to understand people and how they tick. It makes for one of the better creations to come out of Big Finish so far this year.
As I mentioned above in the cast part of my review, the highlights of this story were the interactions Orr had with Jack, Tyler, and Mr. Colchester. Colchester's interaction is more for comic relief than anything else, while Tyler's is a powerful scene that reveals a lot of darkness in his past. But the scene where Orr and Jack sit and wait for Orr to die is one of the most touching scenes I've heard at Big Finish. There's a lot that goes unsaid in that scene, as Jack changes the subject away from discussing Ianto, while Orr keeps insisting Jack leave, to which Jack refuses. It's a touching scene between two people who have lost so much over the years, and it makes this story so touching. While the quick ending, with the collar falling off and everything ending happily feels like a cop-out, I'm willing to overlook it for the scene prior to that.
Overall, Orr doesn't bring the set to a climax, but rather slows the set down and tells a deeply personal character story. The arrival of Sam Béart's Catrin Parry is a welcome addition to the cast, as she has brilliant interactions with John Barrowman, Paul Clayton, and Jonny Green. Likewise, writer Juno Dawson delivered an excellent, emotional script, filled with lovely little moments, and beautiful, touching scenes. For her second story, this is one hell of an excellent story to make your Big Finish mark with, as it's such a brilliant, sweet story.