Dead Plates

Posted in Audio by - June 28, 2022
Dead Plates

Released June 2022


Murray Melvin as Bilis Manger made an instant impact during his brief appearance on the televised Torchwood, his incredible powers and beguiling personality exposing Torchwood Three to something altogether more alien and unknown than almost anything it had come across to that point. Accordingly, it’s no wonder that Bilis should continue to focus within the monthly audio range, further developing this mysterious entity and also exploring aspects of his universe that to this point have remained shrouded. In David Llewellyn’s ‘Dead Plates,’ Bilis has been murdered, and he has four suspects at dinner who all have decidedly dark secrets.

This sort of locked-room mystery doesn’t always allow for the greatest world or character development, but Llewellyn has managed to insert a tremendous amount of characterization into this script that allows each of the focal characters to become well-rounded and nuanced individuals. The assembled characters are assuredly driven by selfishness and arrogance, perhaps none quite so much as the journalist Gerald who is willing to sell out anyone for a story and the money and fame that go with it. Tony Turner gives a brilliant turn as this deplorable man who, along with friend Beryl, is willing to justify destroying a man’s life simply because he probably deserves it, in the process reaffirming how pervasive this type of thinking has been and continues to be. Alongside these two, Felicity who acquired her own fame through malfeasance as she emerged from the role of understudy to star and Oliver who put his own career before love in the most dramatic of moments are horribly flawed and yet relatable characters whom Rosa Escoda and Hugh Ross bring to life expertly.

Of course, this group find that Bilis is anything but ordinary, and what appears to be a straightforward murder becomes exceedingly more complicated as he reveals these characters’ recent interactions with him and his ultimate plan to leave behind one more corpse of himself to stay ahead of his pursuers. Bilis puts on a masterclass in how to manipulate others and to toy with their fragile emotions when revenge and selfishness are primary motivators, and Murray is spectacular as Bilis effortlessly traverses this realm of those whom he considers to be lesser beings to achieve his aims, reproachful and amused by more primitive emotions and actions equally effectively. The resolution is unfortunately a bit ineffective and flat after such dramatic characterization that appeared to be heading towards a deeper message about corruption, but the journey to that point is layered with plenty of emotions that ensure it is engrossing from beginning to end.

Ultimately, ‘Dead Plates’ is about as far removed from a Torchwood story as any under that banner, but the focus on this most unique character proves just how much Bilis continues to offer to this franchise even if completely on his own terms and far removed from the clandestine organization. It’s clear that there remains a tremendous amount of additional material that could have been explored with each of these nuanced and driven characters that could have made this an even more intimate and psychological affair, but having such a breadth of emotions displayed by everyone in such a strong cast in a story centred around such a mysterious and powerful central figure makes for yet another unexpectedly brilliant entry in this range.

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