Following some temporal anomalies, the Doctor and Peri find themselves on a spaceport in the future. There they meet a fussy sales representative and a machine that shouldn’t exist.
When something goes drastically wrong, Peri…or is it Perry…wakes up to find herself…or himself…traipsing through a snowy wilderness. No, aboard a hot-air balloon that is about to crash! In the body of a dog? And a circus act. What is going on?! How can she knows what’s not real and what’s the authentic experience?
Making his writing debut is Dan Starkey, known among Whovians for playing the Sontarans on television and for Big Finish. Given his affinity for quarrelsome spuds, you’d be forgiven for thinking his story would feature a monster he knows so well. Instead, Starkey surprises us with a debut story that bends the mind and takes the audience along with it.
The story is neatly designed to keep the listener guessing. Dan plays with the structure in a way that shows real confidence in his script and the intuition of a seasoned storyteller. His prose are descriptive and settings extraordinarily detailed. The plot centres around a really fascinating idea that Starkey has explored to the fullest. With only a handful of characters, Starkey keeps a tight focus throughout this slightly extended (for a Short Trip) 45 minute adventure.
It should go without saying what a terrific job as narrator Nicola Bryant does. The way she emulates the Sixth Doctor could easily give Colin Baker himself a run for his dosh. Bryant has clearly taken care over the script, delivering many of the scenes with an air of vague confusion which the listener can’t help but mirror. This is made even more impressive when you realise that she has to find several new takes on Peri – a character she’s been playing for 34 years. It’s a challenge that only Nicola Bryant could have risen to.
The Authentic Experience
The excellent direction of Lisa Bowerman brings together the story nicely, though the way that Peri changes throughout the story got a little repetitive. It could have benefited from a bit more variety. But this minor point is easily overlooked with the high-stakes action that keeps the pace up. Starkey could tell one cracking good war story, just going from the little scenes he provides us with here. They are surprisingly dark.
The Authentic Experience is an excellent debut for Dan Starkey and hopefully won’t be the last we hear from him. All the elements for a good story are present, maybe not seamlessly merged but with the great direction, narration and a cracking good script.
Blogtor Rating: 8/10
Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.
Release #37 is a Sixth Doctor and Peri story.
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Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Written By: Dan Starkey
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman
Nicola Bryant (Narrator)