Starring: Sam Troughton, Nicola Bryant
, Paul Clayton, Geff Francis, John Schwab
, Becky Wright, Toby Longworth, Nigel Carrington, Helen Goldwyn
Written By: Simon Clark
Sound Design: Martin Montague
Director, Producer and Script Editor: John Ainsworth
Music: Howard Carter
Cover Art: Carlos Castro
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Big Finish productions - Released September 2014
“Triffids. The Great Blinding. Together they created the most destructive event in human history. Billions died. Cities fell into ruin, civilization collapsed"
This release continues the narrative of 'Day Of The Triffids' 25 years down the line. In a new adaptation of Simon Clark's original novel from 2001, David Masen encounters all forms of danger and intrigue. Whereas his father Bill was the hero of the first story, this revolves around David's life as a fully grown man and his growing realisation of how humanity has been changed in a startlingly bleak manner.
A lot of action and location changes feature, without the narrative ever losing too much focus. The action begins on the Isle of Wight. A small colony of survivors must both combat the diabolical carnivore plants as well as build some kind of substitute civilisation. If things were not grim already then now the Triffids have a new way of slowing down humanity - night is constant, and daylight looks like it will never return..
Along the way the hero encounters an island where Triffids run amok, but also a wild girl called Kristina, who has been living alone for far too long. Then he falls in with an American scientific expedition consisting of the beautiful zoologist Kerris, as well as Rory Masterfield (a geologist), and Gabriel Deeds (a botanist). Before long events reach fever pitch as an exploration of Manhattan reveals grim breeding camps and barbaric treatment of those women who object to the oppressive regime under General Fielding.
In terms of stars the biggest draw to this release for Doctor Who fans is Nicola Bryant, who is given plenty to do and some more to spare, with three named roles: Kerris, Marni, and Rowena. Her familiar American accent is also present, if subtly different for the sake of character origins. Also, Sam Troughton - son of David, and grandson of the much-missed Patrick - takes centre stage as Masen. He has the major perk of being both the narrator and the chief protagonist. The key human antagonist Fielding is played with true relish by Paul Clayton; his talents also being used for the much more benign Bill Masen.
Direction from John Ainsworth is difficult to fault, as the tension from one source of danger to another is always fully conveyed to the listener. The revelations about the different sections of humanity which have their own loyalties and ethics is as much of a draw as the various physical perils that Masen faces. Music and sound effects are very impressive and help keep the persistent narration from falling into routine. Martin Montague has devised a very memorable effect for the dreaded Triffid stinger, as well as for some other aggressive life forms that rear their heads late on in the narrative,
Whilst this is one of the darker offerings from Big Finish, this is certainly a positive and shows due faithfulness to John Wyndham's vision and themes. The play's title also refers to the vast majority of society being rendered blind, and whilst disturbing it offers opportunities in the audio medium that are well-executed.
Although a decent enough amount of the human race persist after the landing/invasion of the remorseless Triffids, the society and reality they must negotiate is anything but rosy. There is also enough suggested that the crises facing man are as much of his own making as of such terrifying alien interlopers. Despite much suffering, heartache and disappointment the play does have an arguably optimistic conclusion.
As Clark has so far not produced a continuing entry in the book franchise, there remains the possibility that Big Finish could take the initiative in progressing the story again, as the overall scenario has not been tied up in a neat little bow.
The documentary section certainly covers the making of the story in very comprehensive detail and allows all the key contributors in the cast to explain their acting choices, e.g using certain accents and the reasons for them having a particular impact. It succeeds in answering most questions the audience may have, although perhaps as a continuing listening experience lacks some of the flow of the main feature. There is also heavy re-cycling of the musical soundtrack as interviewees give sometimes drawn-out answers. Having just the one story and thus limited character development to discuss means this is a notch below the fine Counter-Measures extras, but it is still worth your time.