Infidel Places

Posted in Audio by - April 24, 2022
Infidel Places

Released April 2022


Queen Victoria pays a visit to Cambridge on the eve of a historic vote that could change the foundation of the renowned university forever in Una McCormack’s ‘Infidel Places.’ However, she finds devil worship and suspicions rife in this city while something not of this world hunts down leading academics, and she soon decides that the talents of a young mathematician offer this university and universe their best hope of salvation.

As the title that is taken from a famed quote about a women’s college suggests, the greatest strength of ‘Infidel Places’ is how much it leans into the true history regarding male-dominated academia and men’s utter unwillingness to treat women as equals or to even offer them degrees in recognition for their work and studies. The Vice Chancellor is the voice of that overt sexism here, and Jon Glover gives a profoundly engaging performance as this man who has no qualms about the rampant inequality at the university and who is quite wholly focused on his own station and career advancement. Indeed, he finds himself quite comfortable in a world in which even the Empress herself is not allowed to step on the grass due to her gender, and so he quite naturally finds himself out of his element when he can longer keep silent the fact that dons are bursting into flames and unwittingly finds his comfortable world threatened by dangers he has never conceived.

While Sir James would never consider giving a woman even a second of meaningful or genuine recognition, it’s perhaps unsurprising that he can not see the brilliance and intuition of Honora Tapley whom Jade Gordon imbues with such a bold confidence and intelligence. Her more arcane area of study is a perfect fit for this franchise and setting, and it’s little wonder that Queen Victoria takes a shine to this determined young woman as the dangers continue to mount. Indeed, Rowena Cooper gives her typically commanding performance as the monarch who draws upon the power of her position and the accrued knowledge of so much experience so well. She does not suffer fools lightly and is certainly unafraid to brandish authority when required, and although she has not met with the same troubles and obstacles that Honora and other women confront on a daily basis as they simply try to live their lives and meet their dreams, she has a great sympathy and admiration for women in all walks of life and is certainly a progressive voice in a conservative world now beginning to confront more progressive notions.

The science fiction element doesn’t quite live up to the strong foundation that the university politics creates, but it nonetheless adds very visual and more grandiose elements to the production and absolutely presents another unique challenge for Queen Victoria who has come to experience so much otherworldly danger already. The direction and sound design are both superb and create a dynamic environment dripping with tension from the very start to the surprising end, and the strong performances from leading and supporting actors alike help to ensure that humanity- both its best and worst facets- remain the driving force for this narrative that has such a far-reaching threat at its core. Queen Victoria continues to be a dynamic presence for Torchwood, and ‘Infidel Places’ continues to show just how much narrative potential this character holds in any situation and location.

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