This play is certainly a step up in quality from *The Sevenfold Crown* (which isn't too difficult), and the story undoubtedly belongs to Vila, who gets some of the funnier lines. His drunk scene at the beginning is well handled and suites the character.
Tarrant is actually given something to do this time around and Steven Pacey obviously enjoys himself hugely. His 'gentleman' Routine is funny/pervy and he sounds more like Tarrant too (although for some obscure reason he sounded more like Tarrant in Childhood's End).
Barry Letts falls down again with his female characterisation, Servalan is more of a caricature in this one, sashaying her way through the plot and sleeping with her senior officer (shades of Cleopatra, perhaps), and at the end she behaves in a totally irresponsible fashion. Servalan was nothing if not careful and calculating and this ending is not only careless, it's downright stupid. Servalan would never submit herself to anything that hadn't been first tested to destruction and proven beyond any doubt.
Soolin is wet and woolly-minded in this, (again) but Angela Bruce does get one memorable moment of Dayna-esque bloodlust - maybe somebody finally let her get hold of a video, somewhere?
Avon shines throughout, from his memorable first line to his absolute dismay at being grabbed, groped and snogged by an unwelcome 'old flame' (Judy Cornwall), to the excellent denouement, confronting the scientist (Peter Jeffrey) at the heart of the eponymous experiment. "It was you who killed your people, not I. Nearly two million of them. I'd call that genocide, Doctor Rossum." It rolls off his tongue and shivers straight up your spine with all the old terror and delight of the character. For that moment alone, this play would deserve your attention.
Nice to see Mr Letts has listened to the fans and produced something which is a bit better than the hoary old space opera we got last time.
PS Mr Letts please note, when you 'wing' somebody it usually means shooting them in the arm - not the leg...
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