[THEATRE REVIEW] TIME LORD @ The Butterfly Club Review (2023)

There is nothing quite like the thrill that you get from improvised theatre. The fact that as an audience member and you have absolutely no idea where the show is going to go next… and that is a ride that I cannot get enough of. While Improv comedy/theatre nights are fun I find myself even more in my element when a show revolves around a genre or theme that I love.

Hence why as soon as I saw Time Lord listed as one of this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival it went straight into my diary. See, not only am I a fan of Improv but I am also a big fan of… a certain sci-fi series… that as producer/director David Innes said at last night’s performance cannot be named for certain legal reasons, but revolves around a certain Doctor who may or may not travel around the universe in a bright blue telephone box.

At first I wondered how this could ever work, after all there are more than 60 years of television show and audio book lore that could be grouped together to form plots and characters for Time Lord and then there is was the big question that kept swirling around in my head ‘how do you bring a sci-fi storyline to the stage on the fly?’

I need not have worried because I loved every single moment of Time Lord. As David Innes welcomed everybody to the theatre in his Sunday bests I felt like I had taken a trip in the Tar… I mean bright blue telephone box… to the early 1960s and was witnessing a radio play being produced right in front of me. The décor of The Butterfly Club further enhanced that experience.

After Innes’ gusto filled welcome to the theatre the process of working out what the story of the night was going to be began as audience members threw ideas into the mix and writers pitched their plotlines. In hindsight that probably ended up being the weakest part of the night as the audience didn’t exactly deliver any Shakespearian worthy ideas but somehow one writer rose to the task and Jessica Lu’s story won the popular vote. That story then saw us all transported back to a social dance at a High School in Brunswick in 1999. A time when the pants were long and everything was ‘fully sick.’

As Sisqo and Backstreet Boys pump through the stereo at the dance the Doctor (Chloe Towan) and her companion Edgar (Rob Lloyd) find themselves investigating an interesting supernatural case that involves a school teacher named Mr Marshall (David Innes) and a student who has no self-belief.

I found that the story flowed brilliantly and it was an amazing experience watching the clogs turn in the actors and actresses’ brain as they tried to come up with responses to the Narrator’s (Lu) next line. The result was many lines and situations that had the audience giggling and eagerly waiting to see what would happen next.

Chloe Towan was brilliant in the role of The Doctor and together she and Rob Lloyd created a team with a magic that fans of Doc… the television series… haven’t seen since Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper graced our screens. Seriously, Towan was so convincing in the role there were times where I found myself wishing that somebody from the BBC casting department could be watching this.

Also adding to the feel of the night was the fact that the simplistic sets and props only further enhanced the feel that we were watching some of the early episodes of the television series… and it made me realise that my fears around bringing a sci-fi series to the stage were null and void seeing the minimalistic nature of the Whovian world is one of the things that makes it so popular with people right around the world.

My highlight of the night though was just how well this cast worked together. If somebody had a little slip-up, like when one actress accidentally referred to travelling to the big city, then the rest of the cast would step in with a great save – especially in this case where a running gag was then started that Brunswick is ‘so far’ away from the City that it feels like a journey on its own. Of course the storyline at hand is going to change every night that Time Lord is performed and the chances of the plot-line that I saw repeating is slim but I have confidence that no matter what night you turn up to see Time Lord you are going to be impressed by the work that the cast and writer serves up. Whether you are a fan of a certain time-travelling doctor or a newbie when it comes to this universe you are going to be into a night of laughs, giggles and pure talent.