Kaldor City: Occam's Razor Review
by Eddie Robson
If you want action, excitement and clever characterisation then Kaldor City: Occam's Razor is for you. The refreshing thing about this play - and Kaldor City in general - is that it doesn't come across like it's pretending to be something else. It may derive its setting and some of its characters from a Doctor Who novel, plus one character from the TV series and another from Blake's 7; it may draw many of its cast from those two programmes. However, this doesn't feel like an old TV show transferred to audio, as one might expect.
This is because, with "Occam's Razor", Kaldor City strongly establishes a format of its own. It's got a large regular cast, a distinctive feel that resembles smart British comics like Halo Jones and witty, violent movies like Pulp Fiction, and clear scope for ongoing plotlines. This isn't just a play, it's a pilot. It's building something.
Like the best pilots, though, it stands up well on its own, is focused and doesn't waste time trying to establish everything at once. The story is essentially about the arrival of a new figure in Kaldor, Kaston Iago. But again any presumptions that Iago is an Avon clone are soon quashed: this character has a black sense of humour and makes jokes that Avon would never have made, and he's also more bloodthirsty. He may be as cynical and manipulative as Avon, but that's because nearly everybody in Kaldor City is cynical and manipulative. It's hard to tell why you care about them at all, they're such a shower of bastards.
It helps that the performances are up to a good standard. Everybody seems to have a different favourite, and I think that mine is Scott Fredericks as Carnell. Smug characters are difficult to handle, because they often just become irritating, but Fredericks pitches it just right. That doesn't mean that I'm not looking forward to the story where Carnell is dragged out of his ivory tower and thrown to the wolves though. And that's really where "Occam's Razor" succeeds: you want to hear more from these characters, and you genuinely don't know what is going to happen next, or who is going to live or die!
However, it isn't just the script that grabs you, it's Alistair Lock's outstanding production as well. He has excelled himself on this release, from the (intentionally) tacky music in the hotel reception to the enormous explosion in Uvanov's office. The great achievement is that it all sounds very cinematic, which is a great trick if you can pull it off on audio. Oh, and the theme music is brilliant - highly reminiscent of Apollo 440's rewordings of the Lost in Space and Charlie's Angels themes.
So in conclusion, Kaldor City: Occam's Razor is several cuts above the norm and I personally can't wait for the next one!
Eddie Robson is a reveiwer for What DVD and SFX, and is News Editor of Starburst.