To live life uncompromised and true to the ideals to which a person aspires is not easy, even in the best of circumstances. To be different, to be the outsider, is a test for even the strongest. The first half human/half Vulcan hybrid, Spock chose to progress through life as his physiology outwardly presented, with the dominant Vulcan traits of pointed ears and eyebrows and green blood, but both in his childhood and in Starfleet – the first Vulcan to serve aboard a starship – he struggled outwardly with prejudice and inwardly with his dual heritage.
The environment of a human high school is not so enlightened or forgiving, and as much as Gary Thompson (the boundlessly enthusiastic Sam Donnelly) loved Star Trek (“more than Captain Kirk loved having a fight with his top off”), he has learned to hide who he is, his unstoppable fourteen year old self bullied, beaten and shamed.
As an adult his public face is so disassociated from her internalised fandom that even when an opportunity arises to safely express his true self to Kira, the beautiful new temp who astonishes him by pinning her geek flag to the mast by showing up at work dressed as a Starfleet science officer on what she terms “Spock day,” he lies to her rather than expose himself.
Written and directed by Jon Brittain, himself a huge fan, What Would Spock Do? is very much a template one man comedy show decorated with the accessible pop culture hook of Star Trek, the stage adorned with a hanging Wrath of Khan poster, a Spock standee, action figures, books, scrapbook clippings, the pendulum of Gary’s emotions punctuated by stock cues from the original series and most particularly James Horner’s bold and majestic soundtrack of that same film (the recent tragic death of Horner occurred late in the production process and so is not referred to, and would have shifted the focus of the show from where it needs to be).
Primarily an hour of a grown man expressing his unquestioning, unconditional, almost reverential geekdom, it’s about how others can make us doubt ourselves and abandon the things that make us happy for fear of ridicule but also makes comments on the parallels and differences between other, more “acceptable” fandoms such as football (“Star Trek fans don’t yell racist comments at the actors they don’t like”) and it has the momentum of an often painful honesty.
More perhaps could be made to link Gary’s attempts to reconcile the contradictory parts of his life to Spock’s similar struggle, or indeed within the different elements within a sometimes fractious fandom (while Gary’s heart is in the late sixties, he grew up in the era when Picard dominated the screen), but it is both a fast, funny and enjoyable show and loving tribute to Leonard Nimoy, whose passing had a huge impact on the fandom he was so much a part of.