Just in time for Christmas, Big Finish bring us a fantastic treat in the form of the Short Trip release, O Tannenbaum, which paints a much more sinister and dark look at the festive season. Read with obvious relish by Peter Purves, the story sees the First Doctor and Steven land in a forest covered in a winter wonderland.
Written brilliantly by Anthony Ketch and directed beautifully by Lisa Bowerman, O Tannenbaum takes place on a frost bitten Christmas Eve when visting Gretta and her father find themselves in an unexplainable situation.
This is a story that is very sinister and has a distinct claustrophobic feel to it. The central part to all of this is the pine-trees and it is fun finding out why they are such a threat!
Peter Purves performs all the characters with a real conviction and I particularly liked how everything was so detailed in its discription from the pine tree forest to the small cottage, isolated on Christmas Eve. The sound design and music really adds to the creeping atmosphere, helping to really paint the picture.
Despite only having a forty-three minute run time, the tale throws in some really fun twists and turns and no time gets wasted on useless dialogue or descriptions.
But lying at the heart of this story is a real enviromental issue, which basically tells us all to respect nature and it will in the end, protect you.
O Tannenbaum is brilliant from start to finish. It is a cautionary tale, which doesn't go overboard and doesn't become too preachy. Peter Purves does a fantastic job and the writing is both descriptive and has some well done character moments. After listening to this, I doubt you'll ever look at a Christmas tree the same way again though...