George Hewitt reviews May’s Torchwood release: War Chest!
War Chest is the debut Torchwood story for writer Rossa McPhillips, and also for director Samuel Clemens. It’s also the first Tosh story in over a year, and is a very different sort of Torchwood story than listeners may be used to.
The plot centres around the Antebellum, Torchwood’s storage of alien artefacts. An organisation called the Dow Cohort have managed to break in, believing that they would do better things with the technology than Torchwood. They’ve kidnapped Toshiko Sato, and rely on her as a hostage to get into the Antebellum and recover the alien items. The story is very well-written, with McPhillips nailing Tosh’s character right from the start, and there’s some really great dialogue the whole way through. It’s the type of story that probably could have been a part of TV Torchwood, and that mid-to-late-2000s atmosphere is captured wonderfully.
Clemens’s direction helps here too, as the story moves along at a really nice pace, without ever feeling rushed. Also on top form this month is Blair Mowat‘s music, providing what may be the best Torchwood score yet in the Monthly Range. It fits the story so well, and Mowat’s use of certain cues really works in this story, even if it’s difficult to place exactly why.
However, one slight negative for the story is that occasionally the performances feel too much like performances. Naoko Mori and Homer Todiwala have a great chemistry as Tosh and Edward, and their relationship in this story is believable, but the other members of the cast sometimes deliver lines a little awkwardly, which does somewhat detract from the character’s realism, however it’s never jarring enough that listeners will be taken out of the story. Going back to the positives, Sean Longmore’s cover art for this release is excellent, and is a real display of his talent, showing that he was definitely the right choice to take over from Lee Binding.
Overall, War Chest is an excellent first script from Rossa McPhillips, who I hope gets to write again for the range (his style is very reminiscent of the Aliens Among Us/God Among Us sets, so he’d be a great choice for the eventual Torchwood Series 7…), and this story excels in every other aspect of production, let down only a little by some of the performances.
Torchwood: War Chest is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com