Maurice Review

Maurice

After yesterdays story from Jago & Litefoot Series 11, Jago & Son, this episode; Maurice has a hell of a lot to live up to. After battling both a Satanist cult and Satan himself; sure this story will be a bit easier of Jago and Litefoot right? Right?!?

Synopsis
As he tightens his grip on Inspector Quick, the Master becomes interested in the young composer Maurice Ravel. For his part, Ravel befriends Professor Litefoot. But is anyone truly who they seem or able to control their own destiny and actions?
When Litefoot goes missing, it’s up to Jago to investigate. But the Professor finds himself in a nightmare landscape where reality and fiction seem to have merged. Will he ever manage to escape? And if the real Maurice Ravel is trapped with Litefoot, who exactly is walking the streets of London?

Review
The Maurice that is the title of this story is French composer Maurice Ravel; a man who, at the time of this story, is just at the beginning of his composing career. We’re introduced to him straight away as well as his overwound clock and terrarium. No, I’m not kidding. The mystery surrounding Maurice begins almost immediately and, with this being Jago & Litefoot; there’s also a murder.

One thing that surprised me with Maurice is just how soon we’re introduced to the Master; who’s seemingly out and about in London, wearing a mask to hide his disfigured face as he’s tired of people seeing him and fainting. I know the feeling Master, really I do. The idea that the Master wears a mask for the sake of others rather than himself reminds me somewhat of the Phantom from Phantom of The Opera; and as someone who is a fan of the theatre, I think it’s a really interesting parallel to use. Another thing that I find absolutely fascinating with Matthew Sweet’s writing too is that he’s written the Master in such a way that he’s not dismissive that he’s not the strongest he’s ever been; he openly admits that he’s frail and that he struggles to get around. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it’s almost like they’re wanting me to feel empathy for the villainous Time Lord.
It’s not long before Maurice and the Master are acquainted (albeit under the alias of Vanhooten) and we’re given a hint as to what it is the Master actually wants: a watch.

Considering we’re getting an awful lot of the Master over the next few months from Big Finish, first of all with this months And You Will Obey Me, his involvement in Jago & Litefoot Series 11 and the other two stories in The Two Masters Trilogy: Vampire of The Mind and The Two Masters; I have to admit that I feel like the Geoffrey Beevers incarnation of the Master seems very fond to use his fragility and his weaker appearance to guilt trip people into doing more and more of his bidding; especially after the events of And You Will Obey Me.

Maurice becomes rather friendly with Litefoot rather quickly, and they find themselves back at Ravel’s house, which is full of rather odd clockwork toys; and we know which certain Time Lord has an affinity for anything to do with timepieces…
Not long after Litefoot has a tinker with these toys, he starts to have odd visions; maybe of the future, who knows? And of course with this being Jago & Litefoot and being set in the Victorian period, there’s something morbid about the whole ordeal.

We’re then reintroduced Inspector Quick and barmaid Ellie. If you’ve heard Jago & Son, you’ll know why Inspector Quick could seemingly pose a much larger threat in this series of adventures than normal, and you’ll know that Ellie (who is played by Lisa Bowerman, who is also famous archaeologist Bernice Summerfield) is somewhat of the street-smart sidekick of Jago & Litefoot when she’s required.
Inspector Quick arrives at the bar on the search for Professor Litefoot, but ends up telling Ellie all about the hold that the Master has over him.

There’s a brilliant little scene in which Professor Litefoot is seemingly wondering alone, talking out loud (well it would be rather dull to the listener if he was having this stroll in silence) and saying how he’s not used to doing this set of thing without his accomplice; and, even though I haven’t listened to much Jago & Litefoot, nor have I listened to the interview Benjamin & Baxter, I think it is really clear how these two actors, as well as their characters, seem to compliment each other outstandingly well.

One thing I absolutely love is the way in which Henry Gordon Jago seemingly comes to his conclusions from his deductions; you can tell that this man is a man of the theatre, and not Sherlock Holmes reincarnated, as some of his conclusions are downright ridiculous; luckily for him, he has Ellie handy to shoot down his absurd reasoning and bring him back into the world of reality.

There’s talk again of the devil; maybe alluding that there’s more to the Satanist cult from Jago & Son than I anticipated, and talk of a monster that can become a doppleganger, taking the life of Maurice Ravel…

My favourite part of this story is that you’re never sure which Maurice Ravel is the real Ravel, and you hope that the reveal of the real Ravel is really riveting. If there’s one qualm I have with the writing of Ravel; it’s that the Ravel that is with Ellie and Jago is a bit too moustache-twirling evil to be believable. He seems to take great pride in sharing his plan with people whom he intends to keep prisoner and it just seems like an absolute rookie mistake.

It’s in Maurice that we get the first mention of the Doctor in this box set; with our favourite Time Lord seemingly giving Maurice a Christmas present; albeit not face to face.

If there’s a standout performance in this story, it has to be Lisa Bowerman as Ellie; not only does she have a great vocabulary, but she’s the type of person who acts first then thinks later; the exact type of person who would make an excellent companion.

The conclusion of this story is extremely quick and a little lacklustre, the villain isn’t really a villain and I would have preferred it if we had a few loose ends that could be left to the imagination.

After the main story has concluded, we get a scene with the Master again, and it seemed to be slightly tacked on. This scene is six minutes long, and it feels slightly cumbersome; as it was just really a conversation between the Master and an annoying high pitched voice; it’s hard to think that the Master would allow such a long conversation with such an annoying voice. We learn that the Master wants the Doctor for something (nothing ever changes) and then we get our first glimpse (do you glimpse on audio? What’s the audio equivalent of a glimpse?) of the Master acting like the Master; killing in cold blood and leaving on the trail of both Jago and Litefoot…

I have to admit that I really couldn’t get into this story as much as I would have liked to; whilst I normally love character driven stories like Nightshade, I really didn’t feel like Maurice was anywhere near as effective. The use of Maurice Ravel was really underused; there was hardly any mention of his music, nor did it play a significant part in the storyline. The part of Maurice could easily have been the part of anyone really, as long as they liked clockwork devices, which to me feels like a real shame, as Maurice Ravel could have been so much more influential to the narrative than he actually was.

Rating
The rating system on the GallifreyArchive is achieved on a scale of 1-10.
For Maurice, I will give a rating of:

6.5

Should you want to purchase Jago & Litefoot Series 11, it’s currently available both physically for £30.00 and as a download for £25.00, which you can purchase by clicking here!

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