Big Finish Audio Drama #43, 2003
<spoilers galore in this one… sorry! I just can’t help it.>
There are some great funny lines in this one—Evil Evelyn and her ship, the Lecturers Revenge! And the singing’s just fun and well done. Red Jasper is crazy. And the story may be a bit trite and easy to predict, once it gets to certain points, but at the same time, it didn’t make it any less heartfelt. There’s plenty of death in other stories with Evelyn but the children dying always hurts Evelyn more—so much promise of a future unlived. So when the story pauses because Evelyn can’t tell the details of how Red Jasper tortures Jem to death, I can’t help but cry. The music is a good counterpoint to the story, as well.
I just didn’t see the full reveal about Sally killing herself at the end, which they came to prevent. That part really kicks the emotions up again after Evelyn and Sally commiserate about their fortunes, of being responsible for the death of someone they cared about. Evelyn may have just met Jem but I think she has that teacherly aspect to her personality where she instinctively wants to protect and assist any children (Jem is 15) she meets along the way. Cassie. Jem. And yet they all seem to die in rather nasty ways…
And all of the characters are actually a bit more like caricatures but they work very well. Mad sea captain. Kooky British sea captain. Pirates. Boats, er ships. What I like best about this adventure is that it takes on a weighty issue, suicide (implied) and feeling responsible for the death of others, yet it doesn’t descend into spitting back trite, inane platitudes about how life is worth living and all that. Sometimes, life treats you roughly and sadness is just the thing surrounding you and perhaps it feels like death is the only way out. I know I’ve felt that way in the past occasionally and I’d imagine a lot of other women have as well. Sorry, can’t speak for the men but I can say that as a woman, sometimes I just care too much and let other people get to me. Other people who aren’t concerned with how they impact the lives of others, whether they’re crazy like Red Jasper or just thick skinned and don’t care. But I think that Jacqueline Rayner has a good approach—if just one person cares, perhaps you can go on living. Remembering that other people care about you can be a difficult thing at times but it’s definitely an important reminder in life.
So for me, this audio drama hits home in so many ways that I can empathize with, though not the causing the death of someone part! Not yet and hopefully not ever. But it’s a good story for life and carrying on, despite the pain that living sometimes brings. Despite life’s crazy turns, there’s nothing like it!
Colin Baker and Maggie Stables
writer: Jacqueline Rayner
director: Barnaby Edwards