Review: Doctor Who Live, or walking with monsters again, or I wish we were sitting closer

AFTER months of build up and actually meeting some of the performers in Liverpool, I was excited about going to see Doctor Who Live.

A new story written by the Moff, special Matt Smith scenes, monsters … erm … Nigel Planer (You remember Neil from anarchic 80s comedy The Young Ones, right 8-year-olds?)

But did it live up to the hype and  my – and the rest of the audiences’ – expectatations?

Well, it was the best Doctor Who Live show I’ve ever seen – I will go that far – and compared to Star Wars In Concert, at least the Who team seemed to be trying.

It focused on Vorgenson, an intergalactic showman who had captured the worst creatures of the Doctor Who universe, and now wanted to imprison the Doctor himself. But was there a sinister force behind his plans?

This being Who, or course there was and you didn’t need to be a 900-odd year old Time Lord to work out who was pulling the strings.

First of all, the plus points.

The music was excellent throughout, with the band of players performing Murray Gold‘s standards with gusto. Conductor Ben Foster, a Liverpool lad,  was also never less than entertaining as he jigged around in front of them, like the Doctor manically controlling the TARDIS.

Nigel Planer hammed it up as Vorgenson and seemed to enjoy himself, as did the rest of the performers who gave their all in whatever costumes they had on.

And Matt Smith delivered his usual energy and verve as the Doctor, in a series of filmed scenes.

But – and there are a few buts – Smith’s scenes (fun as they were) only served to remind the kids around me the Doctor wasn’t there, even though he constantly said he was on his way.

A scene with Churchill was misjudged and strained, while alot of the film-only segments were just extended trailers for episodes watched a few months ago.

The show itself seemed incredibly repetitive, which made me wonder if we were stuck in a temporal loop of ‘monsters walk into audience, then walk back again’. If the case of the Vampires of Venice, this amounted to people walking with umbrellas, in a slight twist.

If you were sitting at ground level – where they walked – this must have been exciting.

However, to recreate the viewing experience of those in the higher tiers (who didn’t fancy paying £50 a ticket, pricing that would have made a Cyberman weep) here’s what you do:

1) Go to your bedroom window.

2) Watch a child play with their Doctor Who figures in the garden in front of a TV showing scenes from the show at random.

3) Ask your neighbour to pop their head over the fence and shout or sing in a high pitched voice.

The most interaction I witnessed was when a dad several rows behind me absolutely bollocked his son for moaning, ending his rant with ‘when the Daleks get on, we’re leaving.’

Naturally when the Daleks did appear, they were spectacular – going a long way to redeeming what had gone before.

Overall though, Doctor Who Live was a bold try and fun in parts, but for alot of the time a wasty of timey-wimey.

With some families shelling out more than £100 to see it, that’s a problem even the Doctor couldn’t fix.

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