The question uppermost in Dr Who fans’ mind on seeing producer Paul Messenger’s theatrical production isn’t so much, “Is it as good as the TV show?” but rather: “Is the Doctor any good, and how will a psychologically dramatic television script, which captured so much claustrophobic tension, translate to the stage?”
The fact that action happens in a confined space with an unseen threat allows this production the opportunity to capture the spirit of the original and add some immediacy. Indeed, the play captures everything about the BBC series that’s managed to win a huge audience for more than 50 years.
Messenger has spun something that is made with love and respect for the original material that is so revitalising that even members of the audience who have never seen a single Dr Who will be spellbound.
That’s because Midnight buttresses outstanding performances from a strong cast – and yes, Hugh O’Connor is good as the Doctor – which avoids any grandstanding moments. Instead, the applied restraint give the dialogue room to breathe.
The play deals with the universal theme of fear of the unknown, but through the most intimate prism of a group of people trapped in a shuttle who are threatened by an unidentified adversary. As the uncertainty shapes their decisions to either sacrifice one of their own or remain united under pressure, the tension mounts.
The result is a moral drama about how travellers who barely know one another react to trepidation, dread and anxiety when exposed to the unfamiliar, anonymous and mysterious menace. Their character reactions are understandable, if not always admirable.
This is stellar theatre, with Samantha Blackmore (as passenger Sky Silvestry) in top form. Go see it.
Dr Who’s Midnight, presented by Sporadic Productions, is at The Arch, Holden Street Theatre, until February 27.