28 September 2011

FRINGE review: Who, Me

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2011
Who, Me
Vicious Fish and MILKE
23 September 2011
Fringe Hub, Meeting Room
to 8 October 2011


In 1999, Rob Lloyd saw THAT Star Wars film more than once. This kind of honesty deserves admiration, but can I still respect him? (Even if he does look like David Tennant.)

David Tennant is MY Doctor. Jon Pertwee is Rob's. Who, Me is about Rob's obsession with sci fi, particularly Doctor Who (which is the name of the TV show; never the name of the character – except that once).

Directed and co-created by Scott Gooding (still going with Peter Davison?), it takes us into the-bigger-on-the inside mind of a passionate obsessive as his alter ego fracks with the wibbly wobbly and forces Rob to put his love on trial. Would Rob have a better life had he not donned a velvet jacket in the 90s and put his devious-and-too-honest VHS-stealing plans to more a more productive purpose?

The uber-meta time-travel/brain/trial story is the structure, but the double-heart of the night is Rob's story.  His confessions of his fan behaviour create wonderful squirming recognition, including a moment when you can pick how many people in the audience had their first kiss when they were well out of high school.

Still, by trying to find a balance between in-jokes and references for the fans and still making it fun for the non-fans (although I don't understand how anyone could NOT love Doctor Who*), the show’s spending some time in the void between the 'verses.

I'd love to see the references turned up to 11. Name those companions, show us the tower of Target books, throw in the really obscure stuff and go as close to the copyright breach as you dare. At the same time, the less-nerdy viewers need a clearer peek into the uber-nerd world they don't understand. The description of the Trek V Wars 90s is as good as stealing a vortex manipulator and mixing at a 90's sci fi party with your theory that Starbuck would have been much better as a woman.  But pics from a convention are not enough to even hint at the jaw-dropping nerdiness of these events**.

But fan or not, it's impossible not to adore Rob as he unzips his normal suit and lets his nerd out to frolic with an atrocious stand up routine and a final vignette that hurts to watch (it makes Wesley's unaired dance in "Waiting in the Wings" – I know you have the DVDs and have watched the extras – seem cool), but it hurts even more to realise that you understand it.

For all its meta wankiness and TARDIS/penis jokes, Who, Me is a love story.  The genuine passion and embarrassingly affectionate love we have for these fictional creations has got so many of us through bad times. And, like all loves, it's so much better when it's shared.

Rob and Scott share their passion to assure us that there's nothing wrong with knowing more about a tv show than our own family. And would Rob's life have been better with the Doctor? I'll leave that answer to a TARDIS birthday cake.

Doctor Who fans, don’t you dare miss Who, Me. Non-fans – what’s wrong with you!? See it anyway and you can catch up with the box sets after the Fringe.


* On Sundays, I gather in a secret location with a group of people old enough to have watched it on the ABC every week night and old enough to not be embarrassed when someone brings along a new dolly for show and tell. The tiny Jammie Dodger with the first Matt Smith doctor action figure was my favourite.

** Of course I know that from experience.  I went a Buffy etc convention. There was a Firefly preview leaflet, I saw Spike and Giles and discovered that my fandom barely rated on the geek scale. Mixing with these nerds, I felt cooler than Pinky Tuscadero when she was dating Fonzie.

This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com

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