We guarantee that this month’s Torchwood release is like no other Big Finish drama you have listened to before. A thrilling, gripping techno-thriller, Cascade – or to give it its stylised title, torchwood_cascade_cdrip-tor – is an ingenious piece that plays with the very medium of audio drama.
The story follows Toshiko Sato, as she is contacted by an old colleague from Torchwood One who needs her help solving an intriguing mystery. Anyone who has downloaded files from a certain illegal torrent site has met their end soon after. Tosh will soon discover that torrenting is not the consequence-free crime it appears to be…
Writer Scott Handcock deserves a round of applause for his work on Cascade. The premise is perfect for a Torchwood audio – it’s oh-so-clever, tongue-in-cheek and a little fourth-wall-breaking. Still, this isn’t an episode that you could easily imagine as an episode of the TV series. It could only ever be an audio drama as its built around the relationship between the listener and the drama. The nearest thing the TV Whoniverse has to this is Mark Gatiss’ Doctor Who episode ‘Sleep No More’, which similarly played with the viewer.
Handcock’s writing makes for strong raw material but the piece comes to life thanks to the hugely effective sound design. The audio takes the form of broken, corrupted audio files which means the narrative flashes back and forth and occasionally take detours to songs, clips from the past or even messages spoken directly to the listener. It’s up to us to engage with what we are listening to and piece it all together. This definitely isn’t something you can listen to with only half your attention.
And let’s not forget Naoko Mori’s great performance which holds the whole thing together. These solo Tosh audios from Big Finish have done a lot to showcase the highly capable, more confident side of the character which was often overlooked onscreen when she was usually portrayed as just the shy one on the team. Supporting her is Robbie Jarvis as Stephen, who gets some very touching moments.
Cascade comes highly recommended for anyone who likes those Doctor Who and Torchwood stories that push the boat out and try something different. They don’t always pay off, of course, but this one really does. It’s a truly unique audio experience and is a must-listen. Just don’t torrent it, eh?
TORCHWOOD: CASCADE / DIRECTOR & WRITER: SCOTT HANDCOCK / NAOKO MORI, ROBBIE JARVIS, ASHLEY KUMAR, RACHEL HANDSHAW / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW