The Contingency Club sees the TARDIS crew that came with the Fifth incarnation of our favourite Doctor, gate crashing the most exclusive gentlemen's club in London, though for once, no one bats an eyelid at the celery, the pyjamas and the air hostess uniform that make the crew stand out like sore thumbs. The members of the club are also unaware they are always been served by and Edward, while the mysterious Red Queen lies in wait in the windscoting.
Despite the obvious Louis Carroll premise, the story plays itself out in the here and now of the nineteenth century. There is snappy dialogue, secrets, mysterious rooms and cliff hangers with people in mortal danger, aplenty. Plus, (and this is a rare thing,), each of the companions gets to do something useful at some point in the story. The Doctor flashes his cricket skills while Tegan and Adric argue with Nyssa acting as mediator between the three. It is the sort of thing that the television adventure, Black Orchid, tried to pull off, only done just that much better.
Tegan's attitude serves this play rather well, with writer, Phil Mulryne taking full advantage of Janet Fielding's area of expertise. And while the story gives each companion something useful to do, much like The Star Men, being an Adric play, The Contingency Club is Tegan's play. In the behind the scenes of this CD, actress, Janet Fielding comments on how Tegan is the practical one in this play, the one with her hands on skill, even if she lacked the alien intelligence of her fellow companions.
I also commented on how disjointed the original Fifth Doctor team felt during The Star Men. But here, everything clicks perfectly. Director, Barnaby Edwards proved a few years ago with The Emerald Tiger that a four person TARDIS crew can work perfectly well when they are given enough to do. This time, in the directors seat rather that the writers', he has managed to bring much of the same energy. Of course, the disadvantage of having so many main characters is that the supporting characters can sometimes lack that something special, which many do here, but we do get some nice interactions between the main cast which is sometimes also forgotten.
Of the supporting characters, many work just fine, we've got the apologetic Edwards, the so-called gentleman - Mr. Peabody, a very nosy journalist, a plucky Victorian lady trying to find her father and the mysterious Red Queen. She comes across very similar to a classic villain, I believed her to be something to do with the Celestial Toymaker. And maybe she is, given that she makes the Doctor ask, "What?"...