Class is back for three new audio adventures set during the original TV series, but this time there are some new faces on the scene. Read on to see my thoughts on each story.
1. “The Soer’s Ditch” by Carl Rowens
The set opens with The Soer’s Ditch, written by Carl Rowens, which sees April, Ram, Charlie and Matteusz thrust into a strange alien world after a disastrous double date. Forced to outrun alien wolves in an attempt to get back home, the gang must also deal with the issues arising in their romantic relationships, making for a story with equal parts action and emotion.
Of the main cast, it is Charlie (Greg Austin) and Matteusz (Jordan Renzo) who I felt got the best development here. Matteusz, frustrated with and scared by Charlie’s alienness, reaches breaking point and confronts him, leading to some great scenes between the characters, and some rather touching moments too.
Sophie Hopkins and Fady Elsayed continue to give solid performances as April and Ram respectively, returning to the roles as if no time has passed. Of the guest cast, McKenzie Alexander and Amanda Shodeko were particularly impressive, portraying bickering alien siblings Runthar and Agen with aplomb.
Overall, The Soer’s Ditch is an enjoyable start to the set, with some great character moments for Charlie and Matteusz.
2. “Catfish” by Kate Thorman
Kate Thorman‘s Catfish is the second episode in the boxset, sees Tanya become involved with new kid Paul. As he gets closer and closer to the rest of the gang, Tanya must confront her buried feelings, both about her new friends, and about herself.
Tanya is here played by Joanna McGibbon, who inherits the role from Vivian Oparah. McGibbon immediately impresses; not only does she sound very similar to Oparah, which is always helpful with a recast, but she captures Tanya’s character so well it’s like she’s been playing her for years. Thorman does a great job writing for the character too, giving her lots of development, which only adds to how strong a story this is for Tanya.
Jacob Daniels impresses as Paul, giving a suitably nuanced performance so that the listener can never quite be sure of what his motives are. Not only is Paul an interesting character in his own right, but his relationship with Tanya is well-developed and well-performed too.
Catfish is the strongest story in the boxset, not only because it gives some much-needed development to Tanya, but also because, given that it features the whole cast, it feels the most like an actual TV episode of Class.
3. “Sweet Nothings” by Michael Dennis
The final story in the set, Sweet Nothings, focuses on Miss Quill, following her as she encounters a mysterious man who whisks her away on lots of weird and wonderful adventures. The plot itself is nothing particularly mindblowing, but there are plenty of great character moments that make this script enjoyable.
This is Dervla Kirwan‘s first proper appearance as Miss Quill, and she does a fantastic job. This is in part due to to writer Michael Dennis‘s incredible grasp on the character; he makes her just as snide, just as cruel and just as emotionally raw as Patrick Ness did in the TV series. As with the recasting of Tanya in the previous story, I think Kirwan is a perfect fit for the role, and captures Quill’s essence perfectly.
Richard Mylan stars as the Man, an intriguing figure who strikes up a friendship with Quill and takes her back out into space after her exile to Earth. The relationship between the two characters is well-written and performed, and leads to some great development for Quill.
Overall, Sweet Nothings is probably the weakest episode in this volume of Class, but it was still immensely enjoyable to listen to, particularly because of the strong writing and development that Michael Dennis gives to the character of Quill.
All in all, this is a strong set of releases, comprising three very different but equally as compelling stories. The returning cast from the TV series slip back into their roles effortlessly, while Joanna McGibbon and Dervla Kirwan fill the gaps left by Vivian Oparah and Katherine Kelly perfectly, proving more than a match for the characters of Tanya and Quill respectively. With stellar music by Blair Mowat throughout, strong direction from Scott Handcock, and great scripts from all three writers, Class: Volume 3 is highly recommended.
Class: Volume 3 is available now as a limited-edition CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com
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