If I Should Die Before I Wake

Posted in Audio by - August 02, 2022
If I Should Die Before I Wake

Released July 2022

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Following a remarkably strong introduction to the worlds of Big Finish Doctor Who in the preceding ‘Together in Eclectic Dreams,’ the Kantrofarri return to close out this third series of Classic Doctors New Monsters in ‘If I Should Die Before I Wake’ written by John Dorney from a story by Jacqueline Rayner. With the Dream Crabs lurking as Greek myths come to life and threaten the Eighth Doctor and Charley, the duo must escape the labyrinthine puzzle before them before succumbing to their ultimate fate.

‘If I Should Die Before I Wake’ takes a much different approach to dealing with the Kantrofarri than the preceding audio, in some aspects following the lead of ‘Last Christmas’ while amplifying the dreamlike aspects of the script as the Doctor tells Charley a series of stories with her in the starring role. This is a two-hander with only Paul McGann and India Fisher featuring, but the multiple adventures presented here as Charley must use her wits against a series of mythological figures including Cerberus, Pegasus, and Gorgons make it feel as though the very intimate script and cast are far larger. In fact, the way that the story unfolds allows Fisher a tremendous opportunity to portray a vast array of characters and creatures as the Fates watch on, allowing her to stretch her vocals while purposefully maintaining a sense of Charley in all to make the dreams that much more immediate.

Of course, it should come as no surprise that McGann and Fisher share an immense chemistry, immediately recapturing the energy and friendship that so defined their characters’ time together in the Eighth Doctor’s earliest audio adventures. For his part, McGann is absolutely mesmeric as he guides the varying stories along, maintaining a calm but evocative tone that never lets any attention waver while also able to assert an air of wonder and incredulity as the Doctor must react to Charley’s own inclinations and tactics to overcome the dangers before her. Indeed, this is a story that absolutely capitalizes on the youthful fervor and excitement of Charley the Edwardian Adventuress who here fully understands the importance of string in every adventure, and Fisher magnificently returns to the role as if no time has passed at all.

It’s as the story begins to take a more serious turn and the Doctor insists that Charley must die within the story to provide a shock to the Dream Crabs to allow her to escape that it really begins to excel, however, becoming more than a series of energetic vignettes and whole-heartedly jumping into the many confounding layers that the Dream Crabs can create for their intended prey. Suddenly, Charley’s reluctance to listen to the Doctor’s advice as well as the tapestry being woven in the background take on an entirely more meaningful role in affairs, and the genuine dedication each character has for the other is brilliantly spotlighted as they together confront the genuine truth of the situation before them. The Kantrofarri’s ability to successfully attack anyone at any time with only the faintest pain in the temples giving their presence away once again proves to be their greatest asset, one that should continue to serve them well in future stories since nobody is immune to their influence. While ‘If I Should Die Before I Wake’ does not quite reach the highs of the preceding audio with the Kantrofarri, its unique setup, engrossing story, charismatic performances, brilliant sound design, and genuine emotion at its core make it a most welcome addition to the Eighth Doctor era and absolutely stands as a testament to what this particular range can achieve.

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