A pair of friends are all set to launch their new musical celebration featuring Doctor Who‘s greatest moments, until a cease and desist letter from the BBC results in them having to improvise a show free of any copyright infringement…
I saw this show the afternoon following the announcement that Peter Capaldi was the new Doctor. It was evident that some rapid overnight rewriting had taken place to drop Capaldi references into the show, suggesting that it may be evolving as it goes along, with some fresh improvisation possible around the core of the performance.
A Doctor Who musical on the Fringe does raise a certain amount of trepidation for any audience member: what if the performers can’t sing?; what if their jokes aren’t funny?; what if the whole thing is simply embarrassing?
Well, you can ignore every one of those concerns. I Need A Doctor: The Unauthorised Whosical Adventure is great fun, a lively, involving and thoroughly enjoyable presentation featuring two enthusiastic performers who not only know their Doctor Who (at least the Tennant and Smith bits), but can also more than carry a tune. This is not some Glee wannabe (and that’s even one of the jokes, so self aware is this piece).
In the play, the musical is the work of Jess (Jessica Spray), a Doctor Who fangirl keen to celebrate her favourite show in song. Her co-star is Jamie (James Wilson-Taylor), and he takes advantage of the warning letter from the BBC to put his own unique stamp on the unauthorised adventures of “The Lord of the Time”, who is “A Doctor” not The Doctor, and who fights snot monsters, “exterminators” and “Cyber-gents” instead of their more recognisable BBC equivalents. As Jamie explains, they now have to do something “the same, but different”.
The two performers dominate the small venue at The Pleasance, with props and costumes to help and a large blue box for time travel that is most definitely not a TARDIS. The songs are great, the passion evident, and the reaction from the audience I saw it with overwhelmingly positive (and it was a full house in a venue that probably seats about 120).
There are at least four shows this year dedicated to Doctor Who, and many more that mention the show in passing, but the others are going to have to be something special to match the sheer exuberant joy of I Need A Doctor. Seriously, if you like Doctor Who and enjoy musical theatre, don’t miss this.
Verdict: Great fun, presented with enthusiasm and verve.
I Need A Doctor—The Unauthorised Whosical Adventure: 8/10
Brian J. Robb
I Need A Doctor—The Unauthorised Whosical Adventure continues at The Pleasance Courtyard as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe until 26 August (not 14 or 20).