Archive for the ‘NON-DW REVIEWS’ Category

Because Foos go to Stage plays too…

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009







Well, I went to Little Shop of Horrors (the musical)…

…on Saturday for the Matinee performance.

littleshopposterA certain Mr McCoy was Mushnick (the flower shop owner) and was simply brilliant. Who would have thought the champion ferret in pants record holder could sing as well! At the end of the performance, the voice of the plant came out onto stage and lo’ it was Morvin Van Hoff (Foon’s husband) from Voyage of the Damned.

Actually, the original cast had Sheridan Smith as Audrey, but this time it was someone different (Claire Buckfield). Of course, after googling her, turns out she has been in three Doctor Who audios. I think everyone in theatre has been in Doctor Who or an audio at some point in time.

Anyway, all up, a fantastic performance and Sylv really looks good for his age.


One for the Ladies

Thursday, May 14th, 2009


Moths Ate My Dr Who Scarf.
Written and performed by Toby Hadoke
BATS Theatre, Wellington. 12 May 2009.

Perhaps the most telling thing about the show is that we almost missed seeing it.  Who would’ve ever thought Doctor Who would sell out midweek in Wellington?


First, it probably pays to clarify what the show isn’t:  It’s not standup, it’s a comic monologue about one man and his life, growing up with (and without) Doctor Who. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very very funny; but the humour is wit and whimsy, based on personal experience and feeling, rather than belly laugh topical humour.  As a result there are some items that may not quite get lost in translation to a New Zealand audience, but do have some of their power diminished (most obviously the initial disbelief in Billie Piper’s casting, and references to the BNP and football hooligans – we can understand them second-hand, but may lack the experience that really gives them punch), but I’m not really sure I would want them changed as this is very much a personal work, and it’s very much about event’s in Toby Hadoke’s life and his reactions to them.  In this opening night performance some kiwi friendly references were thrown in, and there was some nifty ad-libbing though minor technical difficulties (a cordless mike would be invaluable for future frenetic paced shows), but the show does revolve around scripted set pieces (the first sight gag was a great surprise) and the story Toby wants to tell.


Secondly, it’s not really a show for hardened fans, not exclusively anyway.  Some of the biggest laughs were for sections of the audience who obviously had to live with Us, while We just smiled knowingly.  Moths is for Doctor Who, what Fever Pitch is for football.  There are other gags on other topics (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought “Friday – five oranges” at one point, and everyone can have a laugh at Star Wars) but while “those who know” will enjoy a modern interpretation of Death to the Daleks, this really is a show to take your wives, girlfriends or partners to.  It’s “Doctor Who – the secret life of fan obsession” seen knowingly and lovingly from both sides of the coin.  Highly recommended.


The Lear McCoy

Friday, August 17th, 2007


William Shakespeare’s King Lear, directed by Trevor Nunn.
Westpac St James Theatre, Wellington 13 August 2007.

While it might initially seem odd for a Doctor Who blog to be reviewing a production of the Royal Shakespeare Company, let’s not beat about the bush – undoubtedly a major drawcard for the sell-out season of Lear in New Zealand has been its star Sir Ian McKellen. No stranger to the worlds of screen fantasy, his tenure as Gandalf a few blockbusters ago most definitely moved some ticket sales. Given the buzz on the NZDWFC Message Boards then, it’s only a small step to assume that the casting of Sylvester McCoy as Lear’s Fool didn’t hurt in the telefantasy fandom stakes either.  

But to give the production its due beyond the interest of fans, I was very impressed. Lear is one of the ‘big’ plays of Shakespeare, carrying with it the tradition of older actors having aged into the lead role (but not too far, given the physical demands evident in this production) and no less demanding roles of Gloucester and Kent. It’s been said that McKellen could be a little young for the role at 68, but I had no concerns. His Lear ages through the play convincingly; a tremor in places, hoarseness in the voice, a wounded stoop – all a shadow of the character’s entrance in military regalia and compliment of retainers. His king is a notably physical being from the outset – setting on servants and striking his daughters. The character’s inevitable descent into isolation and madness maintains a solid continuity through McKellen’s performance, despite the parallel Gloucester storyline and subplot of Goneril and Regan.

In these no lesser characters we have also been spoiled – Frances Barber’s Goneril is reliably cold and manipulative, more than a match for her sister, as ably played by Monica Dolan. Barber’s star turn is apparently in the companion play from the RSC tour, Chekov’s The Seagull, but her Goneril is prize stuff indeed. If any of Lear’s daughters do disappoint it is Cordelia who distinctly doesn’t shine but grates; a shrill performance by Romola Garai doesn’t offer the opportunity to infer a doting relationship between father and favourite daughter, and so it’s left to the Fool, mourning her departure after the fact, to convey some of what that opening scene could not.

And so to Sylvester McCoy’s Fool. When I read about McCoy’s involvement in the play I confess I was a little concerned. Knowing his work primarily from Doctor Who I imagined him at a disadvantage among the play’s leads – but he’s great! Another demanding role, Lear’s Fool is burdened with a large number of lines, songs, moods and – in this production at least – spoons. McCoy’s scenes with McKellen alone are playful, but certainly achieve the mounded performance this Fool is duty-bound to continue. The actor’s past life as a stage ‘shock’ performer certainly is used here as well; his hanging by Regan’s men is done onstage and is indeed disturbing. Falling at the conclusion of the first Act, the curtains remained open with McCoy’s body hanging stage left, slowly turning while the audeince rose to seek out refreshments. Creepy.

 Finally, the third of four drawcards for me to this tour: William Gaunt. His Gloucester begins the play much like the king – at the height of his powers with treacherous offspring waiting in the blocks. Gaunt’s voice is as mellow and commanding as ever, and his physical performance as a father betrayed, wounded, blinded and cast out of home is every bit as moving and compelling as McKellen’s. Gloucester’s reunion with his king was heartbreaking stuff, and was the key moment for me in a performance which was well worth admission.  I’m very glad to have seen it.

After three hours the cast received a standing ovation; the greatest applause reserved for the play’s star, but not much less for his fellow leads, Sylvester McCoy’s Fool (who had received warm laughter and applause from a decidedly non-fan appearing house) among them. Well deserved.