My wife was bought tickets to the theatre by her sister. The show? A Fringe success called I Need A Doctor. A Doctor Who comedy musical. I’m generally not one for the theatre, but the subject matter was certainly chosen with me in mind. So, on went my Grey pin stripe suit. On went my Question Mark tank top. On went my Sand shoes. On went my Brown over coat. I picked up my Question Mark handle umbrella and whisked the wife through space to see the show. So how was it?
HOW DO YOU WRITE A DOCTOR WHO MUSICAL WITHOUT GETTING SHUT DOWN BY THE BBC?
The MTN award winning musical hit of Edinburgh 2013 returns in an all new regenerated form. Watch as superfans Jamie and Jess sing through time and space to battle hastily altered villains ‘the cybergents’ and ‘exterminators’ with original songs including ‘I Need A Doctor’ and ‘Phonebox of Love’.
This review is of the Performance at the Derby Guildhall Theatre, 15 April 2015
If I were going to write a very brief review of this production, one of those snappy ones that get quoted on posters and such it would probably read thus:
“Clever. Funny. An Honest and loving Musical Parody”.
But that’s not my job. My job (job he says as if this isn’t a fun thing to be able to do) is to provide a bit of a more thorough analysis of the production for you our reader. So let’s get right into that then shall we?
The premise of the show is one that works well and lends itself fully to the comedy aspect. How do you make a trademark and copyright free production that the Beeb won’t take issue with? I don’t want to go into any real detail as that would reduce the impact of the show for those who have not yet seen it. Suffice it to say that comedy does ensue and the laughs don’t really let up from start to finish.
Speaking of the laughs – for me there were two real highlights and these came in rapid succession. The first was the “villainous reveal” which included possibly the best rap number I’ve ever seen in a geek-related musical comedy production at the theatre. That’s underselling it as the rap number was a joy to behold – the performance pitched at just the right level to be funny without tipping into embarrassing. Very shortly thereafter came the most beautifully realised “the TA …” sorry “the time machine is GONE!” moment. These are but two highlights in a performance filled with very knowing references to the entire history of the TV show. As a long-time fan, I found this great and while I had to clarify who Tegan was to my wife on the way home, she also seemed to enjoy the entire production.
This is true of the entire audience – every one there, whether a fan or having come with a fan seemed to have a great time watching Jamie and Jess perform. Is it wrong that I could actually see the pair playing their respective parts on the tellybox? Nah – course not. Jess in particular captured the essence of the companion (particularly those of the re-launched show) and also of a fan of the show (not just a female fan. ANY fan) and this shone through in the tongue-in-cheek dialogue and her performance itself.
The production is as much a parody of musical theatre as it is of our beloved television show with references (and versions of songs) from various stage and screen musicals converted for use in the Whoniverse. Now, I admit that this information came from my wife who is far more cultured than Wot I Is. Captialisation intended.
I have to admit if I had one trepidation going into the theatre it was how the team would realise the movement of the time ship through the vortex. Fortunately these are highly trained professionals who were way ahead of me. What was eminently fantastic about the effect is how it realised some of the old effects work from the 1960s and 1970s but without the use of a starry backdrop.
I think it’s quite clear that I thoroughly enjoyed I Need A Doctor and I heartily recommend you check it out whether you are a Doctor Who fan or even someone who is just aware of the show. I had a great time watching the performance – something I’ve not really done in a theatre since watching Cats in the west end back in 1999. I also recommend forking out the fiver on the show’s CD so that you can take some more memories away with you. I know I did.
As a final aside, I was thrilled with the number of both adults and children in the audience. While waiting to head inside, I was stood next to a young lad who looked particularly dapper in his Matt Smith outfit. The almost continual buzz of Sonic Screwdrivers as we had a quick J2O in the bar was also great. I had a chat with one lady who had brought her fan daughter with her and I think she was expecting to have to endure the show rather than enjoy it. It turns out they were sat in front of us and I noticed that both were laughing along as much as each other. Excellent stuff. If the audience was a good representation of Doctor Who fandom, then there can be no doubt that the show appeals to a very broad range of the population. I left the theatre in a far more optimistic mood than I expected to.
Rating: 5 / 5
GS Blogger: WedgeDoc