Lease of Life

Posted in Audio by - March 28, 2021
Lease of Life

Released March 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

In a pandemic year beset by the necessity of self-quarantine in which those lived with have never been so close while those who are normally so close have never seemed so far away, Torchwood delves into the functionality of a Cardiff shared house in Aaron Lamont’s ‘Lease of Life.’ In this house, however, there is a small spreading mould problem, and the City Council’s Mould Expert, Dr Owen Harper, is on the case.

Bringing to life the nuances of the different yet intricately linked lives within a shared domicile is no easy feat, but Lamont deftly describes through interactions and individual thoughts the main characters of the more laidback Nye, the more go-getting Ellie, and the unimpressed and exasperated estate agent Seren. The initial few moments are a bit more methodical than is typical for this audio range, but this is a necessary sacrifice that provides plenty of context for these characters’ actions and decisions as the mould proves to be much more insidious than any of them ever imagined. In a series that typically presents one guest character in addition to one core member of Torchwood, the more expanded cast allows the psychological and physical horrors to truly manifest while presenting plenty of additional problems and thoughts for Owen to consider, and Angus Yellowlees, Rosalie Craig, and Luyanda Unati Lewis-Nyawo give wonderfully emotional performances to truly highlight the chilling but voiceless infestation that has been developing furtively around them.

In fact, the dichotomy that exists by portraying the strengths and foibles of individuals in their everyday lives against the backdrop of a unique alien presence proves to be the undoubted highlight of this release, and the writing, performances, and incredible sound design wonderfully capture the increasing sense of claustrophobia as an increasingly gruesome sequence of events unfolds. The horror isn’t necessarily gratuitous, but it’s far more tense, immediate, and uncomfortable than even Torchwood often attempts to portray, and that visceral tone only heightens the overall sense of danger as Owen becomes increasingly more desperate to find a solution. There is no easy solution with even an escape seeming all but impossible, and the dour and downbeat ending is a firm reminder of the very alien nature of the threats that Torchwood and the Earth face and how difficult it truly is to find a satisfactory resolution at any given time despite everyone’s best efforts.

Burn Gorman is always a standout in these audio releases, and ‘Lease of Life’ proves to be another atrong outing as Owen’s more petulant nature gives way to a grudging sense of caring for these individuals and their isolated plight that could so easily spread beyond the confines of this home. Owen very much takes the lead and educates and inspires those around him in a way that only he can, and while his interactions with Seren are a particular highlight, his interactions with each of these individuals fuel the narrative and further develop arguably the most unique and complex character of the original Torchwood run. Just because of its implicit relevance to the lockdown and quarantine, this is a story that will already resonate with listeners for some time, but ‘Lease of Life’ boldly delves into the deeper and darker recesses of tone and atmosphere that this range allows to deliver one of the most unsettling and understatedly powerful entries yet.

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