Rob Lloyd has been playing and touring his Doctor Who-themed comedy show to worldwide audiences for a number of years, yet despite a couple of visits to the Edinburgh Festival this is his first proper journey around the provinces of the programme’s home territory, the UK. Amazingly, given Doctor Who’s popularity and ubiquity, this is an extremely rare opportunity to catch a stand-up-style routine based around our favourite Time Lord – Toby Hadoke is the only other candidate that springs readily to mind – and the idea of an ‘outsider’ selling beef to the British might seem like an odd one. But it’s that foreign perspective on a shared cultural experience that makes Who, Me worth seeking out.
That, and that it’s also very funny – and surprisingly affecting – of course.
The theme of the show – which includes a fair amount of improvisation but has had plenty of time to bond itself into a slickly performed routine – is that of a courtroom trial, a notion that long-term Doctor Who fans will no doubt be familiar with. Except this time, it isn’t the Doctor himself who’s up before the jury; rather, it’s the Doctor’s influence on a maturing Rob, and the obsession that Rob develops towards the programme, that’s under scrutiny. Is, in other words, Doctor Who good for you?
It doesn’t take a kidnapped genius on Lakertya to work out what the ultimate answer will be, but as in the stories that Rob so lovingly invokes, it’s the journey rather than the destination that counts.
The tone of Lloyd’s show is more eclectic than you might imagine; instead of a simple accusation-and-defence performance, we get numerous sidesteps into diversions that might include musical theatre representations of the various incarnations, deliberately corny set-ups and punchlines, or even quite intimate childhood revelations – complete with photographic evidence. Lloyd’s magic is in balancing this variety of material without ever losing sight of his goal; there’s an intelligence and charm in the writing and delivery, as well as wryness alternating with goofiness, and as we approach the resolution to his quandary, suddenly moments of illustration that felt throwaway come back to prove themselves anything but. It’s deftly delivered but very carefully constructed, such that this lippy Aussie is telling us things about ‘our show’ we never really needed telling, but in a fashion that will send us home with a little extra gladness in our step.
Not all of the comedy works for a UK audience as well as it might have back home in Aus, but there’s such a breadth of it – and such an intimacy with the performer, who really is stripping part of himself bare here – that by the final act you barely even think of this as a routine, and totally identify with the lone man on stage in front of you. Plus, there are jokes about Carole Ann Ford and stories about Day of the Daleks, and an extremely amusing observation about Babylon 5 fans; Lloyd even manages to end the evening on a moment that’s as bang-up-to-date as you can get. You don’t get shows like this turning up in your local theatre every week, and it’s well worth catching during this too-brief UK visit.
Oh, and if you should ever bump into David Tennant, be sure and tell him how much he looks like Rob Lloyd.
The Who, Me tour continues on June 29th in Bordon, then June 30th Southport, July 3rd Peterborough, July 4th Chipping Norton, July 5th Norwich, July 7th Salford, July 8th Inverness and finally July 9th Edinburgh. Photograph by Caitlin Yolland.
WHO, ME UK TOUR / DEVISED AND DIRECTED BY: SCOTT GOODING / DEVISED BY AND STARRING: ROB LLOYD / ON TOUR UNTIL JULY 9TH