The Hope

Posted in Audio by - August 23, 2019
The Hope

Released August 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Even with its smaller casts, the main range of Big Finish’s Torchwood has succeeded not just in further developing the known characteristics of beloved characters but in exploring and fleshing out certain aspects and nuances that never had the opportunity to flourish on television but that were always present just beneath the visage they presented for the world. In arguably the darkest Torchwood story yet produced, ‘Corpse Day,’ writer James Goss exploited the superb pairing of the optimistic and eager Andy Davidson with the cynical and derisive Owen Harper to magnificent effect, and the trio once more reunite for another dark foray in ‘The Hope’ as Andy and Owen seek to uncover a dark secret that has haunted Snowdonian families for years.

Hinging a story so specifically upon the words and actions of one guest character necessitates a powerful and layered performance to carry the requisite weight and evoke the full range of emotions intended, and Siân Phillips without question delivers everything that could be desired as Megwyn Jones, one of the most hated women in Britain. Keeping her peace while incarcerated for years following the disappearances without trace of the children under her supervision at a home for troubled youths, Megwyn has afforded neither the families of those affected nor herself the peace that admitting the truth could provide. However, when Owen her gives a terminal diagnosis, Megwyn finally decides to go back to the Hope to reveal all, promising to deliver what everyone wants most in the process.

Despite the incredibly dark accusations against her, Megwyn still manages to come across as likable and genuine, making the descent into the sinister madness at the Hope all the more unnerving. Strangely, it’s Owen who optimistically wants to believe the best in Megwyn while Andy walks the more distrustful route, and the unique manner in which these two characters who share a genuine friendship subtly change when paired together continues to provide wonderful material that both Tom Price and Burn Gorman handle effortlessly. Of course, the inevitable inclusion of members of the public and of the suffering families only further amplifies the emotion on display, and Phillips masterfully showcases a woman who is able to charismatically read any person put before her to maximise his or her guilt and hope in equal measure and to rather callously offer her perspective on the local history to which she is so crucial. Tellingly explaining that the attention given to the children as a result of the writings and films following their disappearances far outweighs the attention the families ever gave them in real life when they had the chance, this shrewd cold-heartedness expertly complements the more genteel nature of Megwyn in general and serves as just one of many reminders of just how developed and twisted this individual is as she leads those around her to the secret found just beneath the ground’s surface.

The subject material is without question dark and sobering, but Goss aptly manages to sensitively deal with both the emotional and physical fallout in a satisfyingly deep but not overwhelming or cumbersome fashion, culminating in some of the most visually enthralling moments this audio series has yet produced. Rivaling any of Owen’s best stories, the unique truth at the heart of the mystery of The Hope provides a very personal connection to his own condition and just what immortality can mean in certain circumstances, and Gorman truly excels as a genuinely emotional Owen arises with a taste of and for real life once more. It’s an uplifting moment at the end of such darkness that has been years in the making in this haunting setting, and the conclusion satisfyingly wraps up the mystery and its resulting turmoil wonderfully to punctuate another brilliant outing for this range and everyone involved both in front of the microphones and behind the scenes.

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