Eden Court, Inverness
If you weren’t sure what this show was about before you entered the OneTouch theatre, then you could be grateful that Davros was there to put you right.
The mechanical hiss of the Daleks' creator’s voice – the actual voice of Terry Molloy, the Davros of Doctor Who's 80s era – demanding the audience turn off their phones lest they be “exterminated” was a gleeful reference for the sci fi show's fans.
It also set alarm bells ringing. There’s a fine tightrope a show like this has to walk as a production exploring a particularly niche media subject – how do you tell a story about Doctor Who without it collapsing into an avalanche of references and fan service?
Kicking the show off with a couple of time travel gags (the ending’s at the start, how timey-wimey) and three minutes of deliberately hacky Doctor Who-themed stand-up, you become aware that Rob Lloyd – the one man show’s creator and performer – has had exactly the same thoughts.
And so what we get is something different and rather lovelier. Rob has crafted a show here that ostensibly puts the show Doctor Who on trial for ruining his life, a show reference in itself – “It’s the Valeyard,” as somebody helpfully roars at roughly 180 decibels towards the end of the evening.
Yet for all those little flourishes – and the framing device works, Rob jumping between characterising himself and the prosecutor, holding a conversation between the two with an Eddie Izzard-like energy and flair – this show is smaller on the inside.
This isn’t a story about how much of a massive Doctor Who fan Rob is. Rather, it’s a story about how that fandom has shaped Rob’s life over the years, and how our connections with culture can provide all of us with comfort and community in equal measure.
Not that it’s all uplifting – the prosecutor needs a case after all. Rob discusses with a sparkly-eyed candour his thieving of 20 Doctor Who videotapes over the years – complete with paying an eye-watering $380 in lost property fees over that time to keep hold of them.
But this is, at its heart, an uplifting story. The centrepiece of the production – a story about Rob’s time working as a teacher in Melbourne, the troubles he faced, and how taking inspiration from what the Doctor might do allowed him to work and teach and flourish – manages to be heartwarming and wonderfully affirming.
We draw strength from where we can in tough times, so why can’t it be from somebody flying about in an old police box?