At the beginning of Prisoner of the Sun we find the Doctor already knee deep into one of his adventures. And what a satisfying change that is. Once in a while, weâ€™ll be introduced to the Doctor midway through events of a story and itâ€™s nice to play catch up. School Reunion does it, Partners in Crime as well and to an extent even The Seeds of Doom enjoys a scene where the Doctor has already been called on to investigate and we donâ€™t have to endure a tedious set up scene.
This is part of the reason why youâ€™ll enjoy Prisoner of the Sun so much; itâ€™s fast-paced and throws you straight into the story juxtaposing the fact that at its core, itâ€™s a quite touching drama.
The Doctor has got himself involved in the middle of some galaxy spanning trouble all of which has resulted in him needing to maintain a very unstable sun from collapsing otherwise it will kill billions. The lonely Doctor does this from a high tech complex located within the heart of the star, watched over (and more or less held prisoner) by the unscrupulous liquid guards The Mercurialâ€™s. Hence the title of the play.
Itâ€™s certainly a bit of a gamble for Big Finish to put this somewhat slow paced piece in-between an Ice Warrior two parter and the season finale featuring the Daleks, both of which seem to be filled with action galore. But if you relax and listen carefully youâ€™re going to be rewarded well because Prisoner of the Sun is a melancholy break for the Eighth Doctor before things take a turn for the worse. Itâ€™s a credit to writer Eddie Robson that he captures this particular Doctorâ€™s vulnerability and innocence so well. Only with this incarnation can you imagine that he really would sacrifice six years of his life to maintain a computer system on his own, something that Doctor number eight does without hesitating. His relationship with his android helper Daphne is rather sweet as he teaches her day to day operations whilst trying to stave off his loneliness by programming her to have familiar personality traights.
Nothing lasts forever in the Doctorâ€™s world however and itâ€™s not long before rebels arrive to take him away from his duties for their own gains. This is where the story enters itâ€™s deepest faze as the Doctor tries to reason with the moralities of the people surrounding him. His dilemma is simple: he would love to leave but the sacrifice he would make, that of billions, is too great. For this Doctor even one life is worth being stuck in his molten cage.
Weâ€™re taken on quite an emotional ride through this adventure and McGannâ€™s performance reflects this excellently. His Doctor is often melancholy, his purring tones reflect a sadness that is played out well here. His counterparts all react perfectly with his character, trying to take advantage of someone they believe to be a walkover but is in fact fully in control of the situation the whole time.
Take your time with this play; it deserves your full attention. And before you ask, Antony Costa from boy band Blue isnâ€™t too bad at all.
Find out more and purchase your copy on CD or MP3 from www.bigfinish.com.