Torchwood: Cadoc Point allows Andy to shine in a mature and reflective drama of loss and regret
Torchwood’s established place in the Doctor Who universe is as the slightly dangerous, irresponsible sibling. The one likely to be shoplifting down the arcade, while Doctor Who is home studying. But in the hands of Big Finish sometimes that mandate to explore more adult themes means something different. Cadoc Point is an illustration of that; a story comfortable with taking a slower, more reflective, pace. There is of course, something nasty dwelling in the windswept cove that gives the episode its name. But the greater part of it deals with Sgt Andy’s gently probing of an old man as he reflects on the loves, losses, triumphs and many regrets of his life.
Andy (Tom Price) has arrived in Cadoc Point seeking answers in an unsolved missing persons case. A missing persons case in which his own former art teacher, Merlin Williams (Gareth Armstrong), was the only suspect even though the police could only tenuously link him to them. Three young men have gone missing, each one a former student of Williams who’d shown great promise. Additionally, more than one of them can be linked to Cadoc Point, the windswept piece of coast where Williams lives. Andy invites himself into the house with the classic broken down car story. Before long he’s taking taking a tour of Williams’ collection of paintings and sketches, only slowly circling round to the dangerous, unspoken, secret of Cadoc Point.
David Llewellyn’s story gives Tom Price a showcase for one of his strongest performances as Andy yet
The result is a wander through Williams’ life that’s a testament to the brilliance of David Llewellyn’s script. It’s also a showcase for the often underrated performance of Tom Price as Andy. Price has long been one of the most valuable players in the Torchwood universe. He delicately brings a grounded humanity to Andy in even the most outlandish of circumstances. And Cadoc Point serves him well by placing Andy in the central role of detective and hero. As good as he is as a comedy foil for Norton or Owen, this side of Andy flourishes here. And his tender, inquisitive probing to convince Williams to open up about what’s happening also makes Andy stand out as, whisper it now, quite possibly a bit more competent and capable than Torchwood themselves.
Armstrong lays on a terrific performance too as the aged teacher. He brings a wisdom and sadness to the man looking back on his life and address its patterns and mysteries. A gay man who’s lived most of his life in a world where it was a crime, he’s wearily accepting of the suspicion that falls on him as a “confirmed bachelor working with kids,” and through his work brings up on a walk through his life that mixes the melancholy with the nostalgic. But, the question remains, why have so many of the young men he’s known vanished in mysterious circumstances? From his own youth studying art abroad in Paris, to his quiet retirement in the Welsh countryside, death seems to have followed him. And what does it have to do with Cadoc Point?
As well as a fine character drama, the mystery surrounding Cadoc Point is built up, layer by layer, like a skillfull painting
The story also plays with time in a highly successful fashion. We move back and forth to and from Andy’s present questioning of Williams and flashbacks to his earlier investigations. It reveals only slowly what Andy himself already knows and shifts our understanding of scenes in subtle ways. It also introduces us to glimpses of Darren (Aled Pugh), the only one to survive a visit to Cadoc Point, while leaving us unsure if we’re seeing the past or the present, and slowly building a sense of dread.
Cadoc Point shows just how mature and reflective the storytelling in Torchwood can be. It takes a measured pace, and explores character and emotion rather than zapping laser battles. And it’s a story that deserves to be remembered when awards are next being handed out for quality audio drama.
Torchwood: Cadoc Point
Andy’s old art teacher is in trouble. The disappearance of three of his former pupils has brought him some unwelcome attention. The authorities think that there’s a secret in Merl’s past.
Whatever Andy’s suspicions, he discovers that something much older and stranger is hiding in Merl’s past. Clues are scattered through his paintings, and all of them lead to a place called Cadoc Point.