I Need a Doctor: The Whosical @ Pleasance Above
This show is reviewed from the vantage point of a seat behind two hardcore Dr Who fans and Frank Skinner. The fact all of them went home reasonably happy is testament to the appeal not just of the franchise itself but of the love that has gone into a self-consciously shambolic and amateurishly entertaining performance.
The idea of a Doctor Who musical seems so obvious it is a wonder the BBC have not already dispatched John Barrowman and Sylvester McCoy on a tour of regional theatres. Until that happens though, this 100 per cent unofficial musical theatre homage to the best television serial ever made will have to suffice.
It’s a joke that's brought up again and again, but the BBC really do watch the Dr Who cashcow like a hawk. The result is that an entire show about Dr Who barely mentions the man himself or any of his adversaries. Instead we get a show about a doctor who travels through time and space in a phone box fighting a master-ful villain, with any resemblance being entirely coincidental.
There’s lots to enjoy for fans of the real Doctor, and some nice digs at John Barrowman’s mid-Atlantic accent and the narcissism of young male fans acting out their hero fantasies. It feels a bit long at points, and the constant breaking of the fourth wall to reflect on the terrible quality of the sets and songs puts it firmly in panto territory, but when you have Roger Delgado’s Master rapping like Public Enemy it’s just about forgivable.
It also manages to be less cloyingly sentimental and camp than the TV show itself is prone to be, making no secret of the fact its inspiration can be woefully predictable and just downright bad. I need a Doctor… is good fun, and though it never really goes anywhere, its harmless fan fiction theatre has an appeal to anyone who has ever laughed knowingly at a review with a Dr Who reference in the final line.