The Sydney premiere of this originally Tasmanian play went off with a bang and was hugely enjoyable, cast and audience having a delightful time. Whovians can spend hours gleefully noting all the Doctor Who allusions and in-jokes – the play is littered with them.
Director Kyle Stephens and his small cast have done a sterling job in bringing this fun play to life. The script is very cleverly written and in some ways structured like a two part story from the early years of the Doctor. There is a major cliffhanger at interval .
Originally premiered in 2009, McIntyre set himself the task of using a quote from every single Doctor Who story and it is great fun. The play has several NSW and local references, – it would be interesting to compare with the Canadian version that has just been completed.
The set very cleverly conveys the ‘just outside a conference ‘ feel in Act 1, and in Act 2 we are in a secret room with a cage and what could be a TARDIS. And I liked the Dalek!
WHO KNOWS tells the story of Russell Lambert (no relation to Verity?), a downtrodden, now unemployed ‘loser’ ( or is he? ) who is awkwardly celebrating his thirtieth birthday and is passionate about the BBC/ABC show Doctor Who. On the eve of the Doctor Who National Convention– and uncovering the threat of a pair of mad dastardly villains plotting their domination of the world as we know it – Russell learns that you don’t need to have two hearts to be courageous but it sure helps.
The play also deals with Russell’s typical male fear of acknowledgement and commitment to his girlfriend Sara, who is frustrated at his insistence on keeping their relationship secret . We also see his troubled family past , his
uneasy relationship with his brother Peter, and his father. It all ends happily – or does it ?
A slightly ridiculous highlight of the play is in Act 2 when Russell, Fraser and Peter are kidnapped and locked in a basement, and the two Who fans deal with this unlikely arrangement by asking each other what happened in “The Visitation” (including obligatory delay to discuss how much they hated Adric) while Peter has a crisis attack about the fact that he doesn’t understand a word .
Russell is brilliantly played by Josh Shipton, trying to look like Tom Baker, with a captivating gravelly deep voice .He has a wonderfully mobile , expressive face and a powerful presence. We see how Russell grows and changes emotionally during the show. He channels his inner David Tennant particularly in Act 2 when trying to convince Hilda to stop the proposed carnage .
Amy Fisher is tremendous as stunning Sara, Russell’s girlfriend. Bright and resourceful she is also athletic , clambering through air vents and good at self defence. Her appearance in Act 2 through the air vent in a glittering electric blue slinky catsuit stops the show.
As mad wheelchair bound Hilda, the mysterious founder of the Doctor Who Fan Club of NSW , who wallows in the past glory of the fact that she once was an extra in “The Underwater Menace” (third fish person from the right) Carmen Lysiak is splendidly chilling . She has a frightening Davros like monologue in Act 2.
Tall, dark and handsome Edward Ransom is splendid as Peter, Russell’s brother on holiday here in Sydney from London. The family bickering and guilt scenes were tremendously played.
Cute young, possibly gay and slightly weird Fraser, with allusions to Patrick Traughton’s recorder playing, who dresses in full kilt for most of the time and has a crush on Russell , was delightfully played by Simon Lee.
Roger was tremendously played by Yiss Mill , the fake beard in Act 2 sort of making him look like Roger Delgado’s The Master. Or should that be John Simm? Is he intentionally evil,or is he really one of the ’last believers’?
Whovians will love it and non Doctor Who fans will also enjoy this production . Go on, find the sonic screwdriver, have another jelly baby , sit back , relax and enjoy .
Running time 2 hours including one interval
WHO KNOWS by Paul McIntryre is playing at the King Street Theatre, corner King and Bray street, Newtown until 12th July..