Big Finish Review: Torchwood - Dinner and a Show
This year’s series of monthly Torchwood audios continues with Dinner and a Show, which reunites Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto Jones with Naoko Mori as Toshiko Sato, in a pairing not frequently seen on screen or indeed in Big Finish‘s audio iteration.
Dinner and a Show is written by David-Lloyd, directed by Scott Handcock with music by Blair Mowat, and is available for purchase from the Big Finish website. The synopsis follows:
It’s February 14th and Owen is a no-show for Toshiko’s not-Valentine’s-Valentine’s Night at the opera.
Worse, when Ianto turns up he has bad news for Toshiko, for Cardiff and for fans of classical music – the opera is full of aliens. The doors are bolted, there’s no way out, and this could be the final curtain...
In the extras to this story, Gareth David-Lloyd explains the rationale behind pairing Ianto with Tosh (probably the only by-the-books characters in the whole Torchwood Three team):
I wanted to do one that was a bit more fun for Tosh, a bit lighter. There wasn't much interaction between Ianto and Tosh in the series, so I wanted to fix that. We were probably the quieter ones, more private, so I thought it would be nice for them to have a little buddy story.
That sums up Dinner and a Show in a nutshell. David-Lloyd and Mori clearly had immense fun during recording, and it show in the final product. The episode – slightly shorter than usual, coming in at less than 50 minutes – is a fun and contained adventure for the two characters, with a light tone, sparkling dialogue and plenty of humorous moments.
The setup is intentionally modest: a group of aliens have come to watch a performance of Faust at the Cardiff Bay Millennium Centre. Tosh, inebriated on prosecco, is the focus of much of the humour, as is mention of Ianto’s goth phase. The story is not an all-out comedy or at all farcical, but it still proves a diverting runabout with a comedic touch – and there are definitely some laugh-out-loud moments.
This is not an essential episode in the wider scheme of the series, but certainly a fun time for Tosh and Ianto. There are a sprinkling of high-quality moments where the pair discuss their respective motivations and unrequited loves – the final scene in particular is touching and beautiful – and dwell on how Jack’s absence from Cardiff and Torchwood Three – between series one and two of the TV series – leaves the team lacking guidance and leadership.
Interviews reveal how this story was not only the first time Mori had returned to Cardiff for Torchwood purposes since the filming of series two, but also the first time she has recorded alongside David-Lloyd, despite appearing alongside him in multiple Torchwood releases in the intervening time.
Dinner and a Show is a delight to listen to for the droll dialogue and novel dynamic between Tosh and Ianto. David-Lloyd shows the immense care he has for the character, and both actors successfully bring life to his entertaining script.