In the eerily lit vault beneath the corner of Forrest Road and Bristo Square, resembling nothing so much as the catacombs of Peladon, Australian comedian, former teacher and reformed Star Wars fan Rob Lloyd has crossed his own convoluted timeline to put himself on trial to determine whether his love for Doctor Who has ruined his life, but before he even reaches the stage, the audience are warned by Davros to turn of their mobile communication devices or they will be exterminated.
Backtracking into his earlier life to explain how he came to this juncture, the show opens with a salvo of Doctor Who in jokes and puns, some possibly too fast for the audience to follow or appreciate, separating those who know their Tennant from their Ecclestone and those who know their Bakers apart, the Cloister Bell sounding when he delivers a particularly bad one.
Dressed appropriately in pinstripe waistcoat and converse trainers, Lloyd comments on how often he is told of the resemblance of the tenth Doctor to him, a blessing for a man who has been a fan of the show since 1996, a time when David Tennant’s only connection with the show was that he was also a fan, a year which saw Paul McGann’s sole outing and also the passing of Jon Pertwee.
In those days, it wasn’t cool to be a Doctor Who fan, and he compares the question of affiliations to the dread of another generation being asked “And what did you do during the war?” Bringing out a videocassette of The Krotons, he introduces the archaic VHS and asks the audience “Isn’t it big and cumbersome? Isn’t it like the Monolith in 2001?”
Yet Lloyd’s love is anything but monolithic, springing first from a devotion to Sherlock Holmes and also including a shameful seventeen cinema trips to The Phantom Menace, although while he asks the audience to cheer to show their devotion to either classic or new Who, he never offers an option for those of us who love both, albeit in different ways.
While the show is ostensibly modelled as a trial, rather than being …Of A Timelord, the style is very much that of new Who with only a passing reference at the conclusion to the Valeyard, perhaps with an awareness that those who resolutely cling exclusively to classic Who would not be of a mind to enter into a social excursion such as this, and that those newer fans who have been shown earlier stories may just have skipped some seasons. Or decades.
Certainly the changes of tone are based on the tenth Doctor, Lloyd leaping between intimate, wild, angry and defiant, but as to whether the Doctor has ruined his life, that can only be so if the definition of failure includes inspiring high school students to stage productions of major works and subsequently travelling to a packed out audience half way across the planet from his country of birth to present his own solo show as part of the world‘s largest arts festival, albeit an audience presently held captive in a dungeon.