I wasn’t sure how it would stand up with an unrelated selection of monsters, and with the Doctor only appearing on screen, but I really enjoyed it.
The underlying story idea will be instantly recognisable to anyone who’s seen the Third Doctor story Carnival of Monsters, and the name of the showman played by Nigel Planer, Vorgenson, is no coincidence. But it’s not the same story, so there are still surprises to be seen. In fact, it’s a sequel, although there’s no need to have seen the original.
One concern was that it would be a pedestrian parade of monsters with not much to recommend it, and at times it was impossible to be unaware that we were seeing the next monster on the list; but the “galactic showman” setup helped to alleviate this and there was a proper storyline developed over the couple of hours of performance. It could have been edited down for TV, but on TV you can use a cut to get directly from one scene to another in a way that just ain’t possible in real life, so that’s not really a criticism. The most filler-y bit was shortly after the interval, when we had a series of clips of Amy Pond on the screen, followed by Liz Ten running around the auditorium shooting at Smilers, but the rest of the time it was more immersive – very immersive, at times.
The Doctor on the screen worked surprisingly well, with live actors interacting pretty seamlessly with the pre-recorded Doctor; and they were clever enough to have him step out of the 2D screen towards the end, though I won’t reveal how that was done in case it spoils the surprise.
Although Nigel Planer headlined, for me the star was actually – Nick Briggs! The only actor from the TV show appearing in person, he managed to pull off a decent Winston Churchill, as well as voices, live, for five different-sounding Daleks, the Cybermen, and others.
A good bit of fun; recommended.