It's back in time with Torchwood again for the last release of this series of Monthly Releases for the range. Today, we're going back to World War II to see exactly what happens in The Dying Room…
"In this room everyone learns the truth. And neither of us will be quite the same when we leave."
Paris, 1940s. The German-occupied city is in a state of turmoil – a plague ravages the streets, turning people into deformed monsters.
The city’s finest hotel is under siege. SS interrogator Grau has come here to find out the truth. Grau has one night to cure the plague and to unmask the mysterious Madame Berber and who she's really working for. Herr Grau knows all about Project Hermod. And now he's going to find out all about Torchwood.
Accents and Big Finish have a rocky history; especially in the early days. American accents, in particular, were notably… not the best; and considering that the first voice you hear in The Dying Room is one with a heavy German accent, I think it's safe to say that whilst they've improved over the years, they're far from perfect.
The more militaristic drums in the Torchwood theme really adds to the sense of the period, and it's the attention to the little details like this that makes you realise just how much Big Finish cares.
I'm surprised that it's taken Big Finish this long to do a Torchwood story that's set around an interrogation; but I'm really glad that they made it a World War II interrogation; the stakes seem to be much higher for humanity in the wars than they ever could in modern day, no matter how near the world is to an alien based extinction. There is nothing more terrifying than the wrath of man, and hearing Torchwood in humanities darkest days is a real treat for the ears.
If there's one stand out performance in The Dying Room, it has to be Emma Cunniffe as Madame Berber, an incredibly remarkable female character, she's exactly what I imagine an early Gwen would have been like in the 1940s.
The idea that Hitler and his closest advisors believed more in extraterrestrial technology than holy relics is a really interesting idea; and the information we get drip fed in the last act is truly fascinating. Normally, as you'll know, I'm not a fan of exposition dumps, but on this occasion, I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you're a fan of the Marvel comics or cinematic universe, you may be reminded of the organisation HYDRA; and you wouldn't be too far off.
During the final minutes of the story, there's a brilliant shock that I didn't see coming whatsoever, and Lizzie Hopley manages to pay-off the reveal so poetically and beautifully. Sometimes the answers aren't staring you straight in the face, they're in the background all along.
The heart of any good story should be the relationships between the characters; whether they've just met, they're intimate lovers or they're seemingly not connected with one another whatsoever. Whilst The Dying Room doesn't focus too much on the alien side of Torchwood's existence, newcomer Lizzie Hopley manages to create a story about a totally new set of characters that is so engaging and rewarding.
Considering that this is the first script that Lizzie Hopley has penned for Big Finish, I think she's done an absolutely sterling effort; if, like me, you've listened to every monthly release of Torchwood, you would undoubtedly notice parallels between The Dying Room and Juno Dawson's The Dollhouse, both are new female writers that have had their Big Finish debuts in Torchwood, and they've both been given the chance to set up a new branch of Torchwood in the past. My only hope is, that like Juno, Lizzie get the opportunity to write more in the future, as she's created a great period story in The Dying Room.
Should you want to purchase The Dying Room, it’s currently available from Big Finish for £9.99 on CD or a £7.99 download which you can purchase here.