Harvey Edwards looks at this month’s Torchwood release: Sonny
Lizzie Hopley‘s first entry into Big Finish‘s Torchwood range was 2017’s excellent The Dying Room. Sonny is only her second story for the range, but it absolutely lives up to her previous work. Sonny reunites Rhys (Kai Owen) with his mum Brenda (Nerys Hughes), for a story about A.I., the elderly, and family – a strange mix, perhaps, but themes that Hopley ties together excellently.
We open the story as Brenda is getting to know Sonny (played by Steven Kynman), a robot being tested for use in care homes. Rhys has placed his mum in a care home as an undercover Torchwood operative, in order to conduct research on the Sonny robots. What follows is an hour in which Brenda becomes increasingly attached to Sonny, as the robot is constantly with her, and her relationship with Rhys starts to dwindle at the same time, as he is often at work and can’t visit her that often. We get some really creepy moments early on, with Toby Hrycek-Robinson‘s sound design bringing some of Sonny’s darker moments to the forefront. It seems as though the robots have some sort of malevolent motivation, but we find out later that all is not what it seems.
Kai Owen, Nerys Hughes, and Steven Kynman are all excellent as the main characters, their respective relationships believable right from the outset. Hughes is especially good, and she gets a lot of opportunities to display her talents. The guest cast do well in their roles, with Amerjit Deu doing a particularly splendid job as Prudeep, getting to perform some really emotional scenes. Steve Wright‘s electronic music does well to evoke the off-kilter vibes that the Sonny robots give off, and Lisa Bowerman‘s direction for the story allows the hour-long adventure to crack on at a great pace.
The story touches on some really emotional themes, and Hopley makes no compromises when it comes to exploring these in detail. Though it may seem like a run-of-the-mill robot invasion story peripherally, Sonny is much more than that, and continues the trend of the Torchwood range setting an extremely high bar not only for Big Finish, but also for audio drama in general. More like this, please!
Torchwood: Sonny is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com