The Miniaturist

Posted in Audio by - April 13, 2022
The Miniaturist

Released April 2022


Following an engaging beginning to a new era of The First Doctor Adventures, Stephen Noonan’s first volume draws to a close with Lizzie Hopley’s ‘The Miniaturist.’ Leaving thirteenth-century Lincoln for modern-day Yorkshire, the Doctor and Dodo arrive at Coulton Salt Mine, a geological quiet place that Professor Medra has come to investigate and experiment upon due to its unique properties. Yet while the Doctor delves deeper into this fascinating work, Dodo can’t help but wonder about her own family’s history in this place, and they soon find themselves embroiled in the mysteries behind mysterious children appearing around the mine, local landmarks disappearing, and the eerie screams of the bedrock.

‘The Miniaturist’ dives into a more psychological realm than is often the case for First Doctor tales, but the steady direction of Nicholas Briggs allows the underlying mystery to slowly develop amidst a wonderfully atmospheric and tense locale. The dark confines of the mine combined with the natural environment and distinctly unnatural elements within create an engrossing and highly visual backdrop for the powerful alien at its core. Annette Badland is equal measures frightening and unassuming as this enigmatic being who is driven by very human motivations despite the inherent inhumanity with which she acts, and her effect on the people and environment around her is a truly resonant and powerful reminder of just how much remains unknown about this universe and the myriad of species within it.

Naturally, the Doctor is quick to sense the alien power at play, and although he is not immune to the effects of her presence and will, he shows a steadfast determination to discover the truth and to connect and even empathize with this being who has caused so much despair and chaos. Even with the Doctor’s earliest on-screen incarnation, it’s not often that he is in such a comparatively weak position, but Noonan emphasizes all of the Doctor’s best traits while expertly ranging from compassion to outright indignation. Again, Noonan’s voice is not all too similar tonally to William Hartnell’s for much of the production, but he has mastered the many vocal inflections that Hartnell included in his own performance to lend a genuine and further air of authenticity to this truly engaging story. Alongside him, Lauren Cornelius again excels as Dodo and continues to expand upon this little-seen character who still holds so much dramatic potential, and this story’s hints about her childhood that may have been less than ideal creates an intriguing avenue for future stories to explore if needed. If ever there were any feelings that Dodo may not have enough personality or power to fully support continuing adventures due to the inconsistent writing she received on screen, Cornelius and everyone at Big Finish have definitively proven that she is every bit as charismatic and engaging and the Doctor’s other friends and unquestionably deserves the opportunity to be fully explored after a very personal and harrowing journey here.

‘The Miniaturist’ is something of an outlier tonally within the First Doctor’s era, channeling something akin to ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ while presenting a wholly unique tale and mystery grounded within extremely human emotions. Noonan has adeptly proven already that his iteration of the First Doctor is more than capable of standing up to any foe and any amount of power shown before him, and the future is unquestionably still bright for an incarnation who continues to be refined and redefined for Big Finish.

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