The third instalment of Big Finish’s “Eighth of March” series was unveiled on March 8th, 2023, coinciding with International Women’s Day. The album, titled “Strange Chemistry,” presents two stories that tackle different themes and ideas, albeit with less prominent female leads.
The first story, “Ghost of Alchemy,” features a captivating performance by Louise Jameson and centres around the historical figure of Marie Curie embarking on a perilous tour of the United States. However, the writing is heavy-handed in its efforts to incorporate women’s struggles into the narrative, often feeling forced and awkward. The villain is also a caricature of misogyny, making it hard to take him seriously.
On the other hand, the album’s main draw is Missy’s encounter with a young Amy Pond in “Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden.” This track is undoubtedly the standout of the album, filled with surprises and an engrossing listen. While Caitlin Blackwood’s teenage angst is relatable, Karissa Hamilton-scripted Bannis’s storyline is more tedious than necessary. The premise is also not fully explored, despite Michelle Gomez’s delightful and eccentric performance.
It’s worth noting that Helen Goldwyn’s direction on “Strange Chemistry” is still impeccable, even if the stories themselves are not quite up to par. Her direction brings out the best in the actors and helps create a rich soundscape that draws listeners in. Despite the flaws in the writing, Goldwyn’s direction keeps the album engaging and immersive.
Overall, “Strange Chemistry” is an improvement over last year’s lacklustre “Protectors of Time.” However, it still falls short of being a must-listen. It seems as if the entire range is an afterthought, which is a shame because these sets deserve better attention and effort.
The Eighth of March 3: Strange Chemistry is available for purchase from Big Finish.