Visiting Hours

Posted in Audio by - May 16, 2018
Visiting Hours

Released March 2017
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

The third series of Big Finish’s Torchwood opens with the revelation that, just as death and danger seem to have an intrinsic attraction to Torchwood Three’s members due to the presence of the Cardiff rift, so, too, have they begun to plague those associated with the organisation only more indirectly. Fulfilling the natural desire to know just how Rhys would handle himself in a dangerous encounter without Gwen and her team involved, ‘Visiting Hours’ by David Llewellyn explores the corridors and inner workings of St Mary’s Hospital, a miracle of the modern NHS with plenty to offer its patients that is suffering from a spate of natural deaths that mysteriously all seem to occur at night.

Hospitals, of course, provide the perfect setting for tales of all sorts of weirdness and unexplained occurrences, their stark and unending corridors containing so much advanced technology and instruments and so many strangers both in need of and offering help. As any good son should, Rhys decides to visit his mother who is being hospitalised for a hip operation, cutting it close with only twelve minutes to spare in the allotted visiting hours but proving nonetheless the devoted son and man he is. When he is allowed to stay by his mother’s side overnight, the atmosphere soon turns from welcoming and friendly to anything but, and Kai Owens adeptly shifts his portrayal of Rhys accordingly from the familiar everyman to the man so attuned to peril who has come to trust almost nothing.

The rumours of screams being heard from the hospital prove to have merit after all as organ harvesters make their presence furtively known. With only a few patients on this floor and a very personal time limit that gives these men needed depth as the lengths one would go to save family members are discussed, Rhys’s mother Brenda very much becomes the focal point of everyone involved, though obviously for very distinct reasons. By necessity, a good portion of the story deals with the two unexpected protagonists running through the maze of corridors and hiding when able, but the tension created and maintained via excellent direction and sound design is excellent throughout, and the superb chemistry between Nerys Hughes who reprises her role from television and Kai Owens expertly carries even the more repetitive and straightforward moments as they fight to survive until the morning.

This is very much more than a simple chase story, however, and Llewellyn introduces some wonderful lingering threads by leaving somewhat open-ended just where and when these organ harvesters have come from and why exactly the people they work for are in need of them so badly. With the hospital’s own past called into question as giant robots out of classic science fiction come to clean up evidence of the night’s exploits, ‘Visiting Hours’ has a bit of everything to deliver an experience that capitalises on the eclectic potential of Torchwood even without its core team present. The charm, humour, and love of mother and son accentuate the true horror of the life-threatening danger before them, and though this is by no means the deepest or most emotional story in this range to date, it successfully explores two amazing characters not entrenched in the world of strange goings-on and delivers engaging plot points that work in isolation but that also leave tantalising future avenues to be explored if so desired.

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