With so much hype around Doctor Who at the moment, it’s a smart commercial choice by Stormy Teacup Theatre to create an “unauthorised Whosical adventure”. By framing the musical as two friends creating a show based on the much-loved TV show which doesn’t infringe copyright, jokes are able to be found with relative ease and they can hang it off a pre-existing brand. But I Need a Doctor, though a show-within-a-show and so intentionally a bit naff, doesn’t make the most of its material and is extremely lacking in narrative intrigue.
I understand that Jamie and Jess’s musical about the Doctor is supposed to be rubbish, but this doesn’t excuse the fact that even the framing device lacks any substance. We don’t see the pair’s relationship develop in any way and there is no characterisation except for one being an arrogant arse and the other a put-upon companion. Add that to the fact that their “musical” is also dreadful (it’s a series of jokes about various Doctor Who villains rather than anything which remotely resembles a coherent story) and it often feels like they’ve just tacked on the framing device as a way of covering the fact the show doesn’t amount to much.
I put “musical” in inverted commas because sometimes I got the feeling I was just listening to one song over and over again with slightly different (bland) lyrics. The rhymes are forced and they feel more like a list of ideas than musical interludes which develop narrative. In fact, I’ve seen better song structure and narrative development from amateur improvised musicals.
The show is at its best when making fun of its subject matter by commenting on the Doctor/companion relationship and Steven Moffatt’s intense workload. Lines like “This seems to be the only place in the universe which doesn’t resemble modern-day Cardiff” are pitched perfectly, as is all-too-brief parody of Les Miserables. If there were more intelligent, self-aware jokes like these the piece would be worth watching. As it stands, I couldn’t wait to jet off in my ‘Phone Box of Love’ after the bows.
I Need a Doctor is at Pleasance Courtyard until 26 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.