Any Suggestions, Doctor? The Improvised Doctor Who Parody ★★

Any Suggestions, Doctor? provides a new improvised ‘episode’ of the BBC sci-fi flagship every performance

There have been many, many theme-based improv shows that have sprung up in recent years. From Jane Austen to Musical Theatre Showstoppers, from the Friends sitcom to the wizarding world of Harry Potter, seemingly no subject is safe from improvisation!

Given that Doctor Who offers potentially all of time and space, not to mention 60 years of the popular BBC sci-fi franchise, as subject matter, it’s no surprise that Any Suggestions, Doctor? The Improvised Doctor Who Parody is gracing the Fringe.

Images by Steve Ullathorn

The basic premise of the show is that the audience members each write a suggested title on a card as a new and totally-canon ‘episode’ of Doctor Who. Then a location for the adventure is both suggested by and voted for by the audience. Ours were ‘The Power of Brie’ and Atlantis, respectively.

Given how enthusiastic Doctor Who fans are, this seems a bit of a genius idea for a show. With some people wearing Doctor Who hoodies and excited chatter about sonic screwdrivers and psychic paper on the way in, there’s no doubting this show has an audience. When the six performers bound on stage, they are greeted with a heroes roar. A quick preamble and it begins!

It says something about the power of Doctor Who that the presence of a police box onstage (stand down BBC Studios lawyers) and something close musically to the TV shows theme can generate such a giddy sense of expectation.

Unfortunately things go downhill faster than Sarah-Jane on a hill in The Five Doctors. What might be dismissed as good-natured mucking about for the first part begins to drag as you realise that all you are going to get is this underwhelming effort.

The Any Suggestions, Doctor gang break so many improv tenets. They often don’t listen to each other: “Was my name Tracey?”  They box themselves into a corner regularly: a mention of the Ice Warriors is swiftly followed by an admission they can’t think of anything else about this particular enemy of the Doctor. They don’t build on each other’s work: the performer playing Tracey insisted on picking apart other performers’ improvisation with a negativity that Tegan could be proud of. And the result was a plot so disjointed and lacking logic, it could give Steven Moffat’s Season 6 arc a run for its money. 

Watching performers scrabbling about in desperation to find laughs is bad enough but for one of them to throw out a submarine comment, referencing the Titan submersible tragedy, is utterly unedifying within a family-friendly improv show. 

It may be a harsh conclusion to say but there are many better Improv troupes on the Fringe. Aside from laughing at the admittedly-amusing unlikely sight of a grieving Macra, by the end of the hour my face was stonier than a Weeping Angel. 

Any Suggestions Doctor? comes close to getting an Adric shattered single star, but recognising the enthusiasm of the audience, it gets a second.

Not nearly enough Sontar Ha Ha Ha – ★ 2 stars