The Minister and Kitty arrive in the strange and murderous marshes of Paludin Fields in search of the Sage of The Waves. Meanwhile, in Sezuan, Durian’s devious plans come to fruition. In the forests of Tanto, Professor Cantha sees the full extent of the Sezians’ assault on Science.
When you finish listening to any episode of the Minster of Chance Paul Darrow, who plays the sinister Lord Rathen, reminds us that the audio drama is financed entirely through crowd funding. So with the release of the long awaited Episode 3 of this Science Fiction Fantasy those who have funded the show will no doubt be asking themselves if they got their money’s worth.
Well if strong voice acting, from a wealth of UK acting talent, matched with epic music and special effects in an exciting sci-fi adventure with heavy fantasy elements if what they were after then it was money well spent.
The passage of time in the production between episodes two and three has not dulled the voice actors enthusiasm for the script or their roles in many cases it has pushed them to deliver stronger performances. All the cast sound like they are relishing their roles there is absolutely no ‘phoning it in’ with this series and listening to the dialogue you can see why. The script is fast paced with a mix of action, intrigue, clashing ideologies and political machinations all punctuated with clever banter.
There’s a lot going on in this episode (I would recommend listening to the first episode again beforehand), more than the previous two episodes but the scene breaks, courtesy of musical interludes, handle the transitions well. There is a confidence in the use of the music in that it is use sparingly but knows when to be an ethereal light piece or a bombastic and epic overture. These pieces along with some top-notch sound effects helps to set the stage for the worlds you will visit in this audio drama.
It was hard by the end, not to wish there was more incidental music because it was that good. In the climactic scenes which close out the episode the musical score really hits its stride and doesn’t let up. At times the music and some of the special effects did overpower the dialogue making it difficult to hear what was going on but that was only in a few parts. As the series is crowd funded one of the things I might suggest is the creators release a download of some of the musical tracks that people could buy and the resulting money could go towards the production. I, for one, would put my hand in my virtual pay pal pocket for a copy.
Once again it’s difficult to point out any one performance that stood out for me as the voice acting was all of such a high standard that it feels cheep to do so. Even the actors who only deliver a few lines do so with such conviction that you crave more from them (the pimp at the beginning of the episode I’m looking at you).
Julian Wadham(The Minister) and Kitty(Lauren Crace) have a prickly relationship at best and through them we get some of the best one liners and comedic moments. However the bond between them is growing and it’s nice to see. Tasmin Greig who I last saw in the brilliant TV show ‘Extras’ joins the cast as the ‘Sage of the Waves’ and she doesn’t disappoint in the role. I hope we see more of her. Sylvester McCoy is at his scene chewing best as the conniving Witch Prime and he needs to be when he’s in scenes with Paul Darrow (Durian) and Paul Mcgann (Lord Rathen).
All three actors are working hard this episode to earn my award of ‘Best Bastard in Minster of Chance’. The three characters they play all have their own agendas and each of them are trying to achieve them an a different way. The whole political back biting is this episode was also a nice way to do a bit more world building while still advancing the plot. Jenny Agutter (Professor Cantha) gets the most interesting character development in this episode and I’ll be interested to see where that leads in episode four.
Episode two of the Minster of Chance built on its predecessor and was the stronger for it. It’s safe to say that episode three ‘Paludin Fields’ is no exception. It is a sumptuous assault on the ears, with brilliant voice acting, an epic musical score & thrilling special effects. If you’ve not had the chance to visit the world of the Minster of Chance then I strongly recommend you do so.