EFR - Reviews of Any Suggestions, Doctor? An Improvised Adventure in Space & Time

Any Suggestions, Doctor? An Improvised Adventure in Space & Time

Thu 4th – Sat 27th August 2016

reviews

Hannah Sanderson

at 10:51 on 24th Aug 2016

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Improvised theatre can either go really well or terribly. This show regrettably falls on the poorer side of the scale. While all the actors are clearly very enthusiastic Whovians and could tell you all kinds of niche facts about the show (demonstrated through their subtle references), this does not necessarily guarantee an enjoyable hour of comedy.

It starts as improv shows tend to: with suggestions from the audience. After attempting to prise a suitable time period out of quite a difficult audience, the Tudor times is eventually settled upon. Armed with the title 'The Daleks Discover Cheese Crisps' we travelled back in time to 1540 where Henry VIII is desperately looking for his fifth wife.

The host of the show (Lewis Dunn) is clearly the most competent actor of the troupe with witty, confident humour and some rhymes to boot. It is his acting and direction that keeps the show afloat; indeed, it would have been a disaster without his enthusiastic nature.

The other actors show some competence in extracting humour from their acting, but it mainly takes the form of making fun of each other’s facial attributes. This turns sour after a few attempts. Louise Jones’ performance appears to consist of adopting an idiotic voice, silly wig and staring blankly into the audience. Her humour, likewise, never spans much further than a regurgitation of lad culture. This quickly becomes grating.

In this show, James Gablin’s portrayal of the Doctor is convincing. His relationship with Charles Deane (Jemima) creates a few comic moments. By enacting the stereotype of David Tennant’s enthusiastic and quirky Doctor, he produces nostalgic laughs from the audience. Matthew Stallworthy portrays an amusing Dalek, however the majority of laughter he manages to coax from audience is due to constantly occurring costume malfunctions rather than anything else.

One of the most disappointing aspects of the show is the serious want of sound or lighting effects. The lighting remains untouched throughout, meaning that instead of any calm or controlled scene changes, the actors are forced to clumsily fling themselves and the props offstage. The sound, although reminiscent of 'Doctor Who' theme music, is inserted at random intervals, and mainly detracts from the action onstage rather than aiding it.

Of course, with improvised comedy, the show will change every day and so every audience member’s experience will be different. However, my only suggestion for this show is: back to the drawing board.

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Nina Klaff

at 13:11 on 24th Aug 2016

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I’m reluctant to admit it but I’m a Doctor Who fan, and I was quietly looking forward to the prospect of ‘Any Suggestions, Doctor? An Improvised Adventure Through Space And Time.’ The enthusiasm with which the cast enter the stage is matched by the eagerness of the audience, who select a Doctor from four options outlined by mediator Lewis Dunn.

Each actor is asked to propose where they would go: one does get a laugh for wishing he could go back in time to prevent the bruise he unveils on his side from being kneed in the chest in a previous performance, but Louise Jones’ dream of going to a planet made entirely of honey is juvenile, as is the rest of her performance. Dunn successfully and gracefully referees an unruly crowd, avoiding suggestions for the setting of this episode such as "to go back to childhood" and one little girl’s adorably ambitious, but slightly ambiguous, "to when I’m a doctor," in favour of a vote between "Slough" and "in Tudor times." The audience choose the latter, as Dunn pulls ideas for the title that the spectators had submitted before the performance from a hat, settling on "Daleks discover crisps."

What ensues is perhaps more of a test on their knowledge British history than they expect. James Gamblin (having been chosen to portray the beloved two-hearted alien) and the rest of the company use wigs and other everyday objects to disguise themselves as other characters. Charles Deane is touch and go in the role of Jemima, the Doctor’s bearded companion; Jones disappoints in the role of a distastefully immature Henry VIII who uses words such as ‘bants’ and ‘lads’ delivered in an irritatingly grating voice; but Mathew Stallworthy’s voice is accurately monotonous and robotic in his interpretation of a Dalek posing as Princess Dialek, inventively using a glow stick for an eyestick, and a plunger and a pink whisk as manipulator arm and blast gun (why do I know these terms?).

Again, the real standout is Dunn, whose confident eloquence and gentle demeanor carries this otherwise underwhelming show. The DIY nature is certainly enjoyable, and I can’t help but be entertained when a toy TARDIS is swung across the stage on fishing wire to close the show. But there are perhaps better ways to spend time at the Fringe than this hit-and-miss improv show.

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