Together in Eclectic Dreams

Posted in Audio by - August 01, 2022
Together in Eclectic Dreams

Released July 2022

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

The Kantrofarri, crab-like creatures that hunt by telepathic perception and pacify their prey by placing them into an induced dream state before feeding off their liquefied brain matter, made an instant impact in the Twelfth Doctor episode ‘Last Christmas,’ and Big Finish now brings the dream crabs to life once more in Roy Gill’s ‘Together in Eclectic Dreams.’

Much like Big Finish’s ‘The Lure of the Nomad,’ ‘Together in Eclectic Dreams’ features the Sixth Doctor in the midst of continuing adventures with a companion who has not been introduced in any media format previously. And although Mari Yoshida as the companion here does not harbour the same secrets or intentions that Matthew Sharpe did previously, the prominence of the Kantrofarri clearly indicates that everything is not as it seems here either. Little of Mari’s history is revealed here other than that she has travelled with the Doctor since university, but she is currently suffering from nightmares and the Doctor has brought her to the Archipelago of High Dreams to recover while he tries to learn more from the monks at the facility. Unfortunately, any semblance of a plan quickly goes awry right when Mari falls asleep and finds herself in the presence of none other than the Eighth Doctor in what becomes a most surprising multi-Doctor story. He tells her in no uncertain terms that she is in danger of falling victim to the layers of woven dreams, and when she next awakes she is in the Lethe Foundation that researches and tests the many facets of dreams, their states, and their effects.

The dream crabs’ ability to manipulate dreams and to create believable realities in which to trap their prey opens up tremendous opportunities for stories to be told in atypical and non-linear fashions, and the dream guide assigned to Mari at the Lethe Foundation who speaks of a figure wearing many faces and outfits who has appeared in so many peoples’ dreams highlights the interconnectedness between these apparent realities and creates unique circumstances through which two iterations of the Doctor can act independently and- although all too briefly- together as well. Gill purposefully allows this story to unfold at a very deliberate pace in order to explore the people and nuances of each of the settings as the Doctors, Mari, and Sam try to piece together the mystery around them and just how the Kantrofarri fit into it all. Given that this is an alien race that does not speak, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the crabs transition exceedingly well to the audio medium, their sounds of movement, the resulting visions, and the shared nagging pain at the temples wonderfully developing the creatures and proving that there is definite sustainability in them potentially continuing to menace the Doctor and his companions in future stories. Like in ‘Last Christmas,’ music has a role to play in offering at least a semblance of protection and means of fighting back against the crabs, and it’s through Rebecca Front’s Tara who is looking for her lost muse that the story features something of a malevolent and manipulative figure who nonetheless offers a vestige of hope that the Doctor can cling onto and develop.

‘Together in Eclectic Dreams’ is a sterling example of the vast potential that Doctor Who in any format holds. Colin Baker and Paul McGann are each superb as the respective incarnations try to understand the other’s role in events and to ensure the Kantrofarri threat spreads no further, and Susan Hingley is brilliant as Mari, creating an integral and well-rounded character in remarkably short order who absolutely feels like an established companion for the Sixth Doctor given her chemistry with Colin Baker. Although Mari’s ending is essentially known from the start because of the dream crabs’ presence, this is a story with a sterling soundscape and robust supporting performances that accentuate the heightening tension with each passing moment, absolutely delivering on the potential of this particular series and packing in plenty of surprises along the way.

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