Saturday, March 16, 2013

Teaching Daleks to Dance - Review of Laughing Stock's "Doctor U"

A few days ago, a good friend of mine mentioned that a friend of hers was in the local improv group Laughing Stock at the Off Broadway Theatre in downtown Salt Lake City (plugging, plugging, plugging...) and they were putting on a comedy show "Doctor U" - the premise being the Doctor has landed in Utah and hilarity ensues.  Feeling a bit of the post-Gally blues (it's been a month, y'all), I decided I'd check it out.  Now that I'm back from it, I wish I'd heard about it sooner and not just gone on closing night because then I could use My Fantastical Internet Blogging Powers to convince everyone in the Salt Lake metro area to go see this show! (they do other shows, plus general improv on Friday and Saturday nights - and I'm sure that they are just as gut-busting as this one was).

It's the TARDY!
The show begins with the Tenth Doctor and his lovely blonde companion "Billie" landing the TARDY (Time and Relative Dimensions... Yo) on what is supposed to be an alien planet.  They meet a lovely young redheaded girl in a leather jacket and red scarf named "Karen" who informs them that they have actually landed in Utah.  The Doctor and Billie stumble upon a sinister lair belonging to an evil alien race that the Doctor has completely killed over and over again but they still keep coming back - the Derelicts.

(Oh - and you can say "Doctor" because that's a generic term, like Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Mathematics - but that's kind of a waste of an education.  You can also say the word "Who," as in "Who are you?" or "Who are you talking to?" But you can never put the two together or it will cause such a critical time paradox that will result in a copyright lawsuit).

And, Ben Franklin shows up and proceeds to play Red Light, Green Light with a Sonic Pen and a Peeping Angel (and if the Angel's wings move, ol' Benny picks up the Angel and moves it back to the beginning).

The jokes in this were fabulous!  There were a few local-flavored jokes (like the Doctor never having heard of Brigham Young University or Ben Franklin's meetings always starting on time - but no green Jello jokes... maybe that was on a previous performance.  This is an improv group), but this could easily be something performed at Gallifrey One.  Hell, I felt like I was back at Gally - most of the audience were well-versed Whovians and everyone laughed at all the jokes (which - I have to ask - WHERE ARE ALL YOU PEOPLE HIDING??? I can never find any of you in real life!  Clearly there are plenty of Salt Lake-based Whovians and I'm just missing the boat.  But I digress).

All of the actors interacting with the kids were phenomenal.  During intermission, some of the kids went up to the TARDIS on stage and took pictures.  Well, the TARDIS was also a stage entrance and the two guys playing Ten and Eleven poked their heads out of the TARDIS just as someone's mom was taking a picture.  Instead of slipping back inside, they stayed and snapped a few more pics with the kids and even invited a few of them inside to look around the blue box prop.

My iPhone doesn't do well with stage lights, but you get the idea.
Other highlights included -

- Captain Jack and the Harknesses (I think that's what they were called) - three guys dressed as Captain Jack, Ianto and Tosh from Torchwood would come out and sing during scene changes - the best was when they came out and sang this song (up until the E.T. tribute portion).  But also when they came out to console the Master's companion, Cornucopia - who to that point had been treated very poorly by the Master - was adorable.

Karen leading the audience in singing to people who are having a birthday before the show begins.
- Cameo appearances from other time travelers - Marty McFly (who is so dazed by flying around in the vortex that he mistakes Ten for Doc and Billie for Jennifer), HG Wells (who thinks regeneration is cheating) and Bill and "Fred" (who flirt with Karen).

- Also, cameos by 4, 5, and 9 - during the swordfight between the Master and the Doctor, the Doctor gets killed a couple of times and 4 comes out with a ton of scarves, 5 comes out with a carrot on his jacket - and 9... well, 9 quotes himself at the end of his regeneration in the show ("You were fantastic - and you know what? So was I!") And then Eleven comes out with a mustache because there are only so many ways you can regenerate a humanoid body (Ten is off finding Billie, who has been brainwashed by the Master into being evil and the Master threw a squeaky toy to get Billie out of the way).

- Benjamin-EFFING-Franklin! Holy cow - that guy was amazing!  The best was when the Master said he was kidnapping the President and Ben says "I'm not the president."  The Master asks "Why are you on money, then?"  And Ben just shrugs.  I think by that point, we were all so hyped up on laughter that it was just FUNNY! And then Ben kissed a Peeping Angel and when Ben and Karen weren't looking, the Angel wiped its face off.  Eleven came back out with a fez and a mop and a roll of toilet paper - because paper covers rock in Rock, Paper, Scissors.  Logically, toilet paper covering a stone Angel will defeat the Angel!

- The Derelict chase that took off into the audience - Ten and Eleven climbed over the audience (and Ben - ever the lonely old man - sat down and started flirting with someone in the audience).  Somehow, Eleven ended up with a box of Red Vines and the cast got back up onstage and started munching on then - even the Derelict wanted a piece of the action, so Eleven handed a Red Vine through the Derelict casing to the disembodied hand underneath.  The audience went NUTS at that one!
Exterminate! Annihilate! Appreciate! Chocolate!
- Also during the Derelict chase scene, the Doctors realize the Derelict couldn't do stairs, so they and Ben Franklin carried the Derelict down and then ran away from it screaming.  Then they went back up on stage and had to carry the Derelict back up the stairs (Ben wouldn't do it since the Derelict had been sent to kill him)

- The Master couldn't remember the Derelict's name and the Derelict's eye-stalk drooped.  The audience went "Awwww..." like they felt sorry for the Derelict.  And the Master turned to us and said "Don't 'Awww...' the genecidal maniacs!"

- ETA: I ALMOST FORGOT THE SETS! *stupid, stupid*  The sets for this show were PHENOMENAL! The interior TARDY was brilliant! Had the glowing-green console and Ten-era roundels and everything!  I almost think they could have pulled off HG Wells' steampunk time machine and not leave that to the off-stage imagination (though it was funny when the Master snapped at some kid who wanted to see what was back stage - "There's nothin' there!")

- After the Big Act 1 Musical Finale (a parody of "We Are Young" - that brought out the lighter!sonics, including mine), the Derelicts came out and sang "Let's All Go to the Lobby".

The fearsome Derelict in all it's glory!
- Act 2 opened with Ten, Eleven and Karen flying out of the exploding TARDY into 1752.  Karen asks what happened to the TARDY and Ten proceeds to say that all will be explained by the end of the show because audiences like having loose ends like that tied up (spoilers - it's never explained).

I got my picture with Eleven!
There was so much more, but I'm going to close that up for now.  But it was a worthwhile venture and I wish tonight wasn't closing night or I would go again.  I know one thing - I want someone to sneak a box of Red Vines onto the TARDIS set for Matt Smith to find and see what he does with them (the Red Vines from this show were still in Ten's pocket during the Meet and Greet after the show).

Eleven and Ten signing programs. If you can spot the Red Vines in this picture, you get...
the satisfaction of finding the Red Vines.

Anyway - if you're in the area, go support Laughing Stock and the Off-Broadway Theatre.  They're a small-time operation, but they put on a quality show (and they're infinitely more affordable than the Hale Centre or Pioneer Theatre).

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