Liv Chenka wakes up to find herself alone. The Doctor has gone. Molly O’Sullivan is in a catatonic state along with the rest of London. But then Liv meets a stranger, someone who wants to get home. The stranger has a message, a message for her and for someone else, so very far away.
Dealing with Grief
Kicking off the seventh series of Short Trips is Jonathan Barnes’, ‘The World Beyond The Trees’. It features Nicola Walker reprising her role once again before the release of ‘Doom Coalition – Volume 4’. Liv is giving her account of an adventure which found her waking up in a sleeping London, to her father. For those of you who don’t know, Liv’s father died and that is what this story really looks at. How Liv has dealt, or not dealt, with the death of her father.
Grief is the Background
Jonathan Barnes tackles the concept of grief in a brilliant way. He doesn’t really broach the subject explicitly but uses it in the background, especially when Liv meets the alien stranger. Both the women have lost their father’s and it brings the two together.
What really helps this story is that there aren’t too many characters. Of course, this is what the Short Trips are supposed to be about, however, trying to fit The Eighth Doctor, Liv and Molly all together in one 35-minute story like this really shouldn’t have worked. But Jonathan Barnes does it beautifully.
Nicola Walker continues to be excellent in the role of Liv Chenka and her approach to this story is likewise as excellent. She breezes through the script with considerable ease, making the two characters feel unique. She lowers her voice for the alien stranger which helps us to differentiate between the two. There was also something her reading which feels like it has undertones of grief, something kept just below the surface but clearly visible. And that is the sign of a good actor.
Lisa Bowerman’s direction is tight and the tale really rattles along at a speedy pace and compliments the writing and acting brilliantly. Like her performance as Bernice Summerfield, Bowerman is also a natural at direction. Under her watchful eyes, there aren’t any moments which linger, musical cues which don’t feel like they fit or acting that feels off.
The Loss of a Loved One
‘The World Beyond The Trees’ is one of those stories that doesn’t come along very often. There is much more to it which goes on below the surface if you look hard enough. The way Barnes tackles grief is inspired and really makes you think. It will no doubt be particularly effective to people who understand where Liv is coming from, people who have lost love ones in the past.
So yes, ‘The World Beyond The Trees’ is an excellent way to spend 35-minutes. It’s a great story, even if it isn’t the most essential…
BLOGTOR RATING 9/10
MedTech Chenka is alone. No Doctor. No TARDIS. No Molly O’Sullivan. But the strange environment she’s stranded in is about to get even stranger, with Liv the only one who can help out. There’s a message here, for her, and for someone very far away…
Narrated By: Nicola Walker
Written By: Jonathan Barnes
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman
Produced By: Ian Atkins
Script Editor: Ian Atkins
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicolas Briggs