Reviewed By: Eiphel
Review Date: 6/29/12 2:32 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
Last month's Guardians of Prophecy didn't excite me, but I give it credit for a pitch perfect evocation of the period. Certainly anyone whose prime motivation in buying this range was to experience stories that felt exactly of their periods, Guardians would have served them well. Alas, Power Play is to me less exciting than Guardians even was, and at the same time, does not really manage to evoke any era of Who at all. Most off-key is Victoria hanging around in contemporary times allied with a coterie of protestors you'd expect to find with Jo Grant, in a way that doesn't really evoke the era of the second or sixth Doctors. But even the other aspects of the play, such as the nuclear power focus, which on paper seems like it ought to fit, just don't make me feel connected to any era of Who. Ken Bentley mentions in the extras he didn't really direct it as such, believing that it was down to the sound designer to evoke the mood, and whether he's right or not, the sound design alone doesn't achieve it. Nothing does.
Everything else about the story affected me much the same, which is to say, not a lot. I just found myself nonplussed throughout, waiting to be engaged. So little is done with Victoria I'm not sure what the point in her return was. Deborah Watling plays what's written, but what's written is a rather dull old woman whose history with the Doctor is barely utilised.
The plot is split into a few distinct strands, and that doesn't accomplish much either. The individual threads of the story aren't in any way additive, failing to enhance one another or really synergise at all. It just feels like three or so rather mundane bits of story progressing in relative isolation. In fact, for more than half the story, it doesn't feel like they're going to tie up at all; it seems like the story really just hinges on a lot of random happenstance and there's no narrative momentum suggesting eventual coherence. When things finally do pull together in episode four there's a bit of a step up in excitement, but it follows three episodes of rather underwhelming trundling. Even then, the tying up of the various strands falls back on an old and lacklustre excuse for the convolution of events.*
Aside from a rather superfluous Victoria, Colin and Nicola Bryant do their best with a bland script, but they have no great moments. The squadron of protestors are featureless and unengaging, except for David, who is actively annoying with his ineffectual whimpering and refusal to believe anything.
At least David Warwick's Dysart is good value. The only character of notable depth, it actually takes some time to traverse the layers of his nature, and Warwick makes him engaging and real. I only wish there was more of him to take up the slack. His boss Dominic, played by Miles Jupp, is suave and charismatic, and wins you over with the power of his performance. Credit to Jupp, because Dominic's a bit cardboard in the writing. (I do at least like the idea of his line of work.)
Lizardy alien cops Weska and Leiss are the most classic Who feeling element of affairs, but not really. Leiss is about as compelling as 'lizardy alien cop' would make you imagine, but Weska is at least engaging in part four. Howard Gossington and Andrew Dickens manage to summon up a fair bit of interplay in the scenes between the two.
Ultimately, I felt this play was extremely flat. The writing seemed mundane and without spark. The most amusing moment was a little pun on 'The Invisible Enemy'. Other than that, very little was remotely memorable. (And the 'Nothing. Nothing will happen' line is becoming a clich?.)
Boring, I'm afraid. And a distinct shame that Victoria's return was so pointless. 4/10
When Peri specifically asks the villain why he hasn't done something much simpler, he tells her he tries to keep himself amused. I always find this a tediously weak excuse for a plot that's been complicated to add 'interest', because it means the only reason it's supposed to be interesting is because the writer has complicated it.