Vicky Chiu

If you go to Doctor Whom at Pembroke New Cellars expecting a night of wholesome family fun, like the BBC show which it satirises, you will be shocked out of your T.A.R.D.I.S.-branded socks, because Jake Rose and Jasper Cresdee-Hyde’s parody play is foul-mouthed, surreal and absolutely filthy. It takes the sexual tension famous from David Tennant’s days on the show and ramps it up to 200%. Be prepared to see the Doctor and the Master start making out within the first minutes, a companion that turns into a dominatrix, and the most surreal inter-species robotic relationship since the 1999 sci-fi horror eXistenZ. The script is witty and appropriately self-conscious, drawing attention to the venue and the production’s sell-out run to great comic effect. It does miss the mark at one point by attempting audience participation in one scene – ideally, this would be cut in further performances, or use audience plants because this caused the energy to lag in the second half.

Jasper Cresdee-Hyde’s parody play is foul-mouthed, surreal and absolutely filthy. 

The plot is a simple parody of a Steven Moffat Doctor Who series – the Doctor (Nathan Galpin) uses a doomsday device to eradicate all evil, only to discover what he has actually destroyed is free will. With the help of his therapist-bot (Mary Osbourne), he is forced to come out of retirement and undo his catastrophic actions, avoiding space rhinos and the ghosts of his past along the way. The cast is very strong – a few awkward pauses and moments of stilted dialogue aside. Osbourne shines (quite literally – she is dressed in a silver morph suit) as the therapist-bot Jeff, conveying the cynicism of C-3PO with the nihilism and self-assurance of Marvin, and a weird sexual energy all her own. Equally impressive is Iona Rogan as the Doctor’s ex-companion Stacey, who has found self-assurance as a leather-clad, corseted dominatrix, who in her public life runs a millennial-sounding start-up with her boyfriend, the Mister. I wasn’t always sure about the energy that Matt Davies brought to the role of the Master-spoof turned apron-wearing submissive but I have to commend his confidence in rocking that costume. It would have been good to see something original brought to this character – somehow I felt that this depiction of the Mister was a Moffatism, rather than a successful parody of one. I’d have also liked to see some stronger energy from Nathan Galpin in the lead role – Doctor Who runs entirely on the charisma of the eponymous Doctor, and it seemed that some characterisation was lacking. Unfortunately, it didn’t feel like Galpin was successfully parodying a specific Doctor, or that he was making the character truly his own. However, I acknowledge how easy this pitfall is when attempting a parody.

Vicky Chiu

The tech for the show was ambitious, and often the pre-recorded dialogue seemed to misalign with what the actors were saying on stage – this kind of technique requires immaculate rehearsal to achieve complete precision to work well, and missed the effect slightly. Props and staging were minimal, in keeping with Pembroke’s green season. The triumph of the production, perhaps overall, was the Robot Dog, a fully remote-controlled cardboard K-9 that buzzed around the stage and could not fail to charm the audience, even when it switched from the classic RP to a thick Scottish accent (reminiscent of Ryan Reynolds voicing Pikachu in the recent blockbuster, perhaps?). I have great admiration for Jake Rose’s robotics skills here – the overall effect was wonderfully home-made and in the spirit of classic Doctor Who’s amazing practical effects.

Although my opinion matters very little – after all the show has sold 200% of tickets for its final night (I’d recommend wearing light clothes if you are seeing this performance – it gets hot in the New Cellars) – I can safely say that Doctor Whom is a fantastic night out. Yes, there are parts of the script and performance that could be improved, but the cast has stand-out members that fully make the experience enjoyable for the audience, and the practical effects alone are enough to make the show worth seeing. Of course, Doctor Whom is not for everyone, but if you long to take a nostalgic journey through the time vortex, be prepared for the zany, grown-up parody you didn’t know you were looking for.