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     The Settling    
     Author:  BadWolf
     Dated:  Monday, June 26 2006 @ 10:08 PM EDT
     Viewed:  909 times  
    DW ReviewsBig Finish 082 - The Settling: (Mostly spoiler free)
    Sylvester McCoy as the 7th Doctor with Sophie Aldred as Ace and Phillip Oliver as Hex.

    This play is set in a very bleak period of English and Irish history and I was surprised that the tale was as bleak as the historical background.

    Told as a series of conversations betwixt Hex and Ace immediately after the event it appears that both of the companions have been hurt physically, mentally and emotionally by the events and the listener can quickly establish that this wasn’t one of the Doctors fun rides.

    The Tardis lands in the small Irish town of Drogehda in September of 1649 and the Doctors idea is to teach Hex the basics of survival as a time traveler but things go awry almost immediately. What the companions believe to be thunder the Doctor recognises as cannon fire and he realizes that where they have landed is just about to become one of the most notorious battlegrounds in the series of ongoing disputes that litter the history of Anglo-Irish relations.

    They have (of course) arrived on the day that Oliver Cromwell’s “New Model Army” laid siege to Drogehda and slaughtered almost every one of its inhabitants and of course both companions ignore the Doctors warnings not to become involved with dire consequences. The story then moves on to Wexford where the same type of slaughter occurs; with Hex agitating on both sides of the dispute.

    I half expected the very fashionable portrayal of the evil English oppressors slaughtering the poor oppressed and totally innocent Irish peasants but what I found was a story of futility, of flawed men, flawed companions and two flawed leaders Oliver Cromwell and the Doctor. Cromwell believes that his cause has the righteousness of God but while full of honorable intentions fails to control his troops. The Doctor allows himself and his companions to become embroiled in events against his better judgment and as a result one of the companions suffers physical injury. On this note; this is the second consecutive play where one of the companions has been physically injured and perhaps the 7th Doctor is returning to his darker side.

    The whole mood of the play was as gloomy as the Irish drizzle and it was ably assisted by an excellent and very moody musical score but it spotlights a period in history that many would rather forget.

    The story tends to gloss a little over the background to the history of the time and the reasons for what Cromwell was doing there. There is reference to Cromwell as the “king killer” and some to the sectarian violence that had proceeded Cromwells invasion. I would have thought that the background of an Irish uprising caused by loyalist catholic Irish rebels after the beheading of King Charles 1st could have been explained by the Doctor when he realised where and when they had landed.

    This is not for anyone looking for an introduction to Big Finish and I suspect that even some regular listeners might find it hard going but it is more than a worthwhile listen and raises many issues of morality that will cause more than a little hard thought.

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