Friday 13 June 2014

WHO REVIEW: The Elixir of Doom

With the Companion Chronicles coming to a close, it seems quite right that they should revisit some of their greatest successes, and so we finally catch up with Iris Wildthyme and Josephine Jones (nee Grant) following their meeting in the superlative 2010 release Find and Replace. Once again, Paul Magrs writes a wonderfully odd, funny adventure in which Katy Manning performs both lead roles. Manning is absolutely on fire here, jumping between Iris, Jo and several supporting characters with ease. As the sleeve notes state, most people would assume she records each characters separately, but in fact she jumps between them, reading the script chronologically. She makes it sound effortless, a testament to her skill as a vocal actor.

The plot is fairly slight, just enough to generate some intrigue and mystery for Iris, Jo and the Doctor. Ah yes, he's here too, although not in his third incarnation, in spite of the image on the CD cover (Jo being a third Doctor companion gets a third Doctor stamp). While I won't give away which incarnation is featured, because it's much more fun just to wait and find out yourself, I will say that it's probably not the one you're expecting. Manning gets him spot on, too.

Iris takes Jo to 1930s Hollywood, to a party where they encounter the brash starlet Vita (another wonderful vocal turn by Manning). Jo and the Doctor saved her from a vampire in the 1970s, which sounds a lot more fun than dithering about on Solos or joyriding hovercraft. It turns out that not only are vampires real, but that there are all manner of movie monsters present in Hollywood in the Thirties. Vita is filming Leopard-Boy Meets the Human Jelly, with real monsters. But she has stranger secrets than that...

This story is an absolute joy, with witty dialogue, excellent performances and sound design and an atmosphere of decadent fun. Derek Fowlds provides fine support as Vita's partner Claude and other male roles, but this release belongs to Katy Manning. Iris and Jo make a fantastic team. Not many actresses display such amazing chemistry with themselves.

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