The first of two stories in this set to feature Michael Keating heavily, Poison gives the actor plenty of opportunities to demonstrate the conflicting sides to his character. The coward who has hidden depths of bravery, the thief and lockpick who almost becomes a different man when faced with a technical challenge that he needs to overcome, the man who has difficulty believing someone will be flirting with him… they’re all here, and Iain McLaughlin’s script alongside Keating’s performance and Lisa Bowerman’s direction ensures that he remains credible throughout.
Where some of the Chronicles try to condense a full-cast drama into the smaller amount of voices present, this one is definitely a two-hander (bar the odd Hitchcockian interjections from producer Cavan Scott!), and Keating is well-matched by Vienna actress Samantha Béart, who isn’t saddled with the American accent she adopts for that series. She too is given plenty of depth for her character, and you almost wonder if this is a try out for a similar Del Grant-ish experiment for earlier seasons of Blake’s 7…
Although it’s sometimes said that if you notice the incidental music then there’s something wrong, kudos on this to Jamie Robertson and to sound engineer Martin Montague – the two elements mesh together extremely well, and there’s a depth of field given to a lot of the dialogue that really helps to sell the many different locations aboard ship.
Verdict: A nicely balanced combination of character development and action. 8/10