Drive

Posted in Audio by - February 18, 2021
Drive

Released February 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Though taxis and the personal transportation industry have evolved immensely over the centuries, there is little questioning just how vital this profession has remained to any city and visiting individual. When Toshiko Sato wakes up wounded and desperate in the back of a taxi, she’ll need to rely on one woman’s accumulated knowledge of Cardiff’s locations and secrets to save the city in David Llewellyn’s ‘Drive.’

Tosh, unfortunately, did not receive the most robust character development during the televised run of Torchwood, and Big Finish continues to excel when exploring and developing the true potential that this character holds. Indeed, the actual science fiction device here serves little more purpose than to move Tosh along in what proves to be a surprisingly poignant exploration of a woman finding herself and her place amongst others in a new city that she only superficially knows outside of her work. As such, pairing Tosh with cab driver Fawzia who so intimately knows this city is a masterstroke, and Naoko Mori and Suzanne Parker share an immense chemistry with their characters together as Tosh’s desperation grows and Fawzia’s curiosity and determination to do what she intrinsically knows is right push both of them forward. Cardiff becomes a character in its own right during their late-night journey through its streets and locales, and the reminder of the highs and lows of normal city life outside of a pandemic proves to be another unexpected strength of this release as Tosh comes to learn much more of her surroundings than she likely ever anticipated.

Just as Tosh forms an easy friendship with Fawzia that overcomes the implicit danger and tension they are facing, she is likewise able to form a strong connection with Taylor Jay-Davies’s Lee as their combined situation becomes increasingly dire. The woman who seemed to be such an introvert initially proves to be surprisingly adept at forming connections with and even inspiring others while remaining open to others’ own ideas and suggestions. ‘Drive’ truly puts its characters at the forefront, and even though the ultimate plot is sacrificed somewhat as a result, the dichotomy of these individuals coming to terms with their own lives amidst the very lively and unexpectedly alien world around them proves to be a poignant and effective narrative device that commands its audience’s attention from beginning to end.

Still, with fairly throwaway supporting characters peppered throughout the city and an alien technology that isn’t quite as vibrantly realized as others Torchwood has come upon, ‘Drive’ doesn’t quite manage to reach the robust highs that Torchwood as an audio drama so often does. The leading trio, direction, and sound design are all wonderful, however, and fans of Tosh and the original televised team will assuredly find plenty to love as the inner workings, motivations, and emotions of this beloved character are highlighted life few times before. The thievery within is simply a means to an end and hardly a plot to be remembered in the long run, but the increasingly tense atmosphere building within Cardiff that itself is explored in more detail than is often the case is a perfectly fitting backdrop for a franchise that continues to excel with its more introspective tales.

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