The Deepest Tragedian

Posted in Audio by - May 03, 2022
The Deepest Tragedian

Released April 2022


Penelope Faith closes out this latest collection for The Companion Chronicles with ‘The Deepest Tragedian’ and Zoe’s incredible intelligence and acuity at the forefront. No puzzle has yet defeated Zoe’s brilliant mind, but she’s now confronted with the sheer mystery of a living man who seems not to be in full possession of his memories, and this is a puzzle that could spell disaster for the Doctor.

With the TARDIS missing, Wendy Padbury and Richard Unwin spectacularly highlight this two-hander that deftly delves into the many facets of identity. Through the eyes of a soldier and actor, the mystery of Tom becomes an increasingly layered one that Zoe is slowly able to discern as she spends time with this man and attempts to traverse the different mindsets before her. While maintaining a simmering sense of danger as Tom mentions the Traveling Man and attempts to learn about Zoe and the TARDIS as well, the acting exercises, games, and poignant emotion that fuel the many discussions about memory and self are genuine and heartfelt and manage to epitomize the true compassion of Zoe who is so often treated more as a logical machine than a person. Indeed, it’s this compassion that creates some of the greatest danger for her as she attempts to adapt her approach as Tom’s own actions and words dictate, and the discussions about genuine tragedies compared to other genres as well as of the rules of war and just what actions may be lurking in Tom’s past ensure that the subtext-laden dialogue continues to engross at all times.

Such an intimate story demands the most of its performers, and Unwin superbly realizes the many facets of his character that together present such a unique and complicated problem for Zoe to try to solve. At times open, emotional, and almost broken while at others completely authoritative and combative, Tom is a fascinating and beguiling presence that ultimately leaves just as much open to interpretation as is fully explored. ‘The Deepest Tragedian’ also makes superb use of key visuals through Zoe’s perception to further deepen the overall mystery, inexplicable appearances of objects and even key copies neatly segueing into a unique incorporation of Blinovitch’s principles that directly calls into question just why Zoe is here and what she is attempting to achieve. To that effect, Padbury is brilliant as she allows a much more rounded and human Zoe to take centre stage. She is every bit as analytical as ever, but the deep connection she forms with Tom as she persistently tries to traverse the ever-changing narrative to find the needed solution creates a uniquely dynamic environment that emphasizes her emotional intelligence, determination, and genuinely empathetic nature.

Despite its incredibly emotional and evocative narrative, ‘The Deepest Tragedian’ does have a few moments in which the pacing dramatically slows down without reason, and the open-ended nature of parts of the conclusion is equally intriguing and underwhelming after so much wonderful buildup. Nonetheless, this is a brilliant character piece with a fascinating core mystery, proof positive once again of how successful two-handers as well as stories without the Doctor directly present can continue to be for Big Finish and its myriad of available storytelling formats.

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