A trip to Ayers Rock... floating in space!,
This review is from: Dreamtime (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
"'The Dreamtime is living time. The Dreaming is living myth.'
"A city travels the stars, inhabited by stone ghosts. At its heart, an ancient remembrance of Earth. Mythical creatures stalk the streets and alien visitors have come in search of trade. But there is nothing to trade. Only fear. And death. And the stone ghosts.
"For Hex's first destination in the TARDIS, it's about the strangest place he could have imagined. Weird and very far from wonderful. Adjustment to his new life could prove tough. But he will have to adjust and do more, just to stay alive, and Ace will have to be his guide through this lost city of shadows and predatory dreams.
"And the Doctor is the first to go missing.
"The Doctor has crossed into the Dreamtime."
"Dreamtime", by Simon A. Forward, is one of those stories that attempts to transcend "Doctor Who"'s usual boundaries and venture into mythology - this time, the focus being the myths and legends of aboriginal Australia. It's quite a nice idea, in a way, that after the people of Earth have practically destroyed their planet, it should be an aboriginal messiah (Baiame, played by John Scholes), that manages to save a little bit of the planet for future generations - but whether or not the idea of Ayers Rock and its environs floating around in an oxygen bubble in space can really be considered a credible concept in a sci-fi series will really depend on the listener's ability to suspend their belief.
None the less, it's an imaginative and suitably out-there situation for the Doctor and Ace's new companion Hex to find himself in on his first trip in the TARDIS, and Philip Olivier plays the young Londoner's struggle to understand the new concepts he's exposed to very well (cue ample repetition of the "Oh my God!" joke from "The Harvest"). Once the Doctor "crosses into the Dreamtime", Ace and Hex carry much of the story, along with the various supporting characters that they surround themselves with. Amongst these characters are several human "Dream Troopers", who are, unfortunately, little more than ciphers, with little personality and only average acting talent. The story also features a return appearance by the Galyari, last seen in author Simon A. Forward's previous play "The Sandman", who are at least slightly more interesting than the human characters. The very-sci-fi Galyari, however, seem out of place in this rather fantastical story where very little of what happens is actually explained in any satisfactory way - a deliberate attempt at a meaningful contrast, I suspect, that doesn't really work.
I suppose the mysterious nature of the "Dreaming" and the "Dreamtime" are supposed to be half of the play's appeal, but one could also suggest that they represent lazy writing, providing the author with an excuse to make crazy things happen without having to explain why. Perhaps further listens to "Dreamtime" will prove more satifying, but on first listen I found myself unconvinced. One thing's for sure: to fully enjoy "Dreamtime", fans must be prepared to let go of the usual sci-fi conceits and go with the flow.