It thankfully hasn’t been too long a wait between the penultimate and final episodes of The Minister of Chance – the hit online sonic movie with superb production values and a world-class cast that we have been covering since shortly after its inception.
The cliffhanger to episode four left our mouths agape, and we’re pleased to say that the fifty-minute resolution (entitled In a Bark on the River Hex) doesn’t disappoint!
It’s getting harder and harder to review the series without giving away major spoilers, so if you haven’t already jumped on board, you should do so now by downloading the entire first series from the Minister of Chance website (the season finale will be available shortly). For a brief précis of the plot, see our reviews of the opening episodes, plus three and four.
For the uninitiated, The Minister of Chance has the sound and feel of epic poetry – involving tales of heroism, warring nations and good and bad supernatural agents – the sort of story that would have been recited aloud to audiences in ancient times and is perfect for audio drama as it sucks you in through intriguing storytelling. Writer Dan Freeman has injected a science-fiction element, but the lyricism of the dialogue and the complex, interweaving storylines wash over you like a modern day Homeric legend. There’s even a bit in this final episode in which the Minister and Kitty journey across a river to a very strange land that has echoes of Odysseus’ descent into the Underworld.
Cue a great cameo appearance by Jed Brophy as their talkative tour guide, and an ebullient turn by fellow newcomer Philip Glenister on the other side!
All of the actors fit their parts perfectly, but it’s those that have survived from the first episode that audiences have the most emotional investment in. Paul Darrow has impressed us from the very start of the series for his turn as General Rathen, the witty and sardonic baddie who has for the most part played second fiddle to Paul McGann’s smooth-talking Tony Blair-like Durian (a similarity that is deliberate and unmistakable!). In the final episode, Darrow doesn’t so much shine as turn supernova, and his performance is indicative of the evident relish he must feel playing a brilliantly written part tailored to his strengths. Rathen is Darrow at his finest, up there with his memorable star turn as Kerr Avon, the antihero of Blake’s 7.
Lauren Crace has also impressed us throughout the series, and she’s pitch perfect again as Kitty, the unlikely heroine with a delightful potty mouth who gives us laughs aplenty as she tosses crude epithets at Julian Wadham’s stuffy Minister. We learn a little more about her backstory too – with another twist you probably won’t see coming! The Minister and Kitty are a great combination of contrasting styles, and the strongest pairing in the series.
It’s been an epic journey, but whilst all good things come to an end, we doubt that this is the last we’ve seen of the Minister. With such a rich world, strongly-drawn characters and adaptable format, there are, we feel, a multitude more stories of the Minister’s (and dare we hope Kitty’s?) exploits to tell. It’s a series that has every potential to run and run and adapt to any medium.
For more information on the series visit the Minister of Chance website, or visit executive producer Clare Eden’s blog and check out her interviews with members of the cast and crew. Twitter fans can follow @MinisterChance.