Reviews: Counter-Measures – Peshka

Peshka coverFrom SciFi-Bulletin

Taking the team abroad seems to magnify conflicts between them…

Cavan Scott and Mark Wright give the Counter Measures actors plenty to play with in this unusual story, as minor conflicts magnify into sometimes quite serious disagreements, and a sense of perspective seems to desert our normally stalwart British heroes.

There’s a fine line in this sort of tale, which, as befits its espionage setting, is filled with twists and turns. You don’t want the audience to feel stupid when the revelations arrive, nor should they come completely out of left field (even if that’s how history shows such things tend to happen in the spy world in real life!) Scott and Wright get it pretty much nailed down: chances are you’ll understand what’s going on a few moments before the characters do – because we’ve been privy to more instances than any one of them has – and motivations are clarified just when they need to be before things feel out of kilter.

The requirement to make sure everything screams 1960s is met – this is Allison’s first ever plane flight – and the story is woven into history in our world: the Bedford-Stuyvesant riots referred to did take place (New York was a very different place then!)

Verdict: It’ll be interesting to see if the fault lines revealed here are followed up; another great success. 8/10

Paul Simpson

Originally published at SciFiBulletin

At Matthewman.net

Cavan Scott and Mark Wright’s Peshka takes the team out of the UK for the first time, to a defection drama set within the world of international chess. But this is no musical with songs by Benny and Bjorn: is a psychological weapon also emerging from behind the Iron Curtain? This is paranoia with a capital “P”, as the team are forced to voice their frustrations with each other. Angry acting is hard to get right, and requires both writer and performer to hit just the right note. I recently listened to Mark Ravenhill’s Imo and Ben on Radio 3, and the antagonism between the characters there felt forced, petulant and whiny, resulting in an unpleasant listen. In contrast, Peshka demonstrates how it should be done. The characters’ anger comes from the already established tensions between the characters, making it all the more believable.

Scott Matthewman

Originally published at matthewman.com

At Red Rocket Rising

Peshka by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright: this story takes the team off to Europe to attend a chess tournament. This is so that they can help a Russian chess genius to defect. Why Counter Measures we all ask, as do the characters themselves? The answer is one of soviet hothousing and the possibility that it is the ability to see the future or to read minds that leads to chess success. The truth when it is discovered is much darker than that and will see riots on the streets of London before it is resolved.

I particularly need to admire Cavan and Mark here – for the first 20 minutes I was vexed that they hadn’t written the characters very well: they were arguing, fighting and not at all like themselves. This was, of course, the actual story about how anyone can move from rational to irrational to violence. They also sneaked in a mention of Department C4!

Originally published at Red Rocket Rising

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