Tell Me You Love Me

Posted in Audio by - September 12, 2018
Tell Me You Love Me

Released August 2018
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Charlie Smith found himself a central figure to two of the most fascinating relationships that Class produced during its brief run, his burgeoning feelings for Matteusz Andrzejewski allowing him to explore himself and what it means to be human while his developing dynamic with Quill hinted at just what the two had been through before the Doctor brought them to Earth and how each was managing to adjust to life on Earth as supposedly ordinary people. Rounding out Big Finish’s first volume, ‘Tell Me You Love Me’ by Scott Handcock brings all three figures squarely into focus once more for what becomes by far the most intimate and engaging story of the set as three little words come to mean the difference between life and death.

A parasite dwelling inside another’s mind is another tried and trusted concept that has been used to great effect throughout science fiction history, and Handcock is smart enough to reference and even make use of the fact that Quill already has the Arn that would become so crucial as the televised series reached its climax within her own head. However, this creature causing its host to simply continue talking regardless of the importance or banality of the words coming out is a unique twist, one that ruins a quiet moment of intimacy between Charlie and Matteusz. With Quill the only one these two can turn to, her unique perspective allows her to determine the trigger phrase that seems so important to humans and that causes the parasite to transfer hosts, revealing that the prospect of love has perhaps never been quite so dangerous as when expressed here. Naturally, having to verbally express love forces all three to consider their true feelings for each other, even with Matteusz and Quill less familiar with each other, and any initial amusement Quill gains from hearing a long string of random thoughts is quickly subdued when she realises that the parasite is simply clearing space to eliminate the host consciousness with just a body left behind for it to control.

Without question, it’s the alien natures of both Charlie and Quill when compared to the very human emotions and sentiments of Matteusz that elevates this story beyond what could be just another alien possession type of story. Though the initial string of dialogue as the characters try to determine just why one of them at a time can’t stop talking is repetitive, it quickly gives way to a fascinating exploration of these three, and it’s perhaps Matteusz’s realization of just how differently Charlie processes, experiences, and shows love that provides the most resonant moment of the play. Both Greg Austin and Jordan Renzo are spectacular as these two lovers who continue to fight for each other even when not knowing the full scope of the situation, and Charlie quite adamantly distinguishes himself from Quill when he refuses to let Matteusz be used as a sacrifice once the parasite is again within his mind. Quill, of course, is as ruthlessly practical as ever, and Katherine Kelly likewise gives an immense performance as she intelligently pieces together the puzzle before by using the information she can glean from the parasite beneath the string of random words, culminating in a brutal solution that plays upon the goodwill of another under false pretences.

‘Tell Me You Love Me’ is a very technically difficult three-hander that challenges each of its leads both to explore an inner depth only hinted at in the programme’s brief televised run and to carefully insert dialogue at just the right moment as another character continues to speak away, referring to what has just passed while still listening for the next cue to again jump in as needed. With so much noise, this is a story that could have easily fallen apart even with a concept seemingly tailor-made for the audio medium, but deft direction and incredible performances end up creating an engaging experience that shows just how well the complex relationships of Class can truly develop and flourish under Big Finish’s tutelage.

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