Blue Box Messiah

Michael M Gilroy-Sinclair

The Old George, Newcastle

From 21 November 2013 to 22 November 2013

Review by Peter Lathan

This weekend, of course, is the 50th anniversary of the first episode of Dr Who, a children's TV series which has become an international cult science fiction show, so it is hardly surprising that there will be Who-related ("Whovian" is the new adjective) theatrical productions.

Blue Box Messiah is written by Michael M Gilroy-Sinclair, author of Whostrology: A Time Traveller's Almanac, who will be the celebrant at a big Whovian wedding at which around fifty couples will get married, renew their vows or engage in a civil partnership in a Doctor Who themed ceremony in London on Sunday 24th November – a ceremony at which this play will be performed.

In the play life-long Doctor Who fans Luke (Adam Lightfoot) and Matt (Lee Shillito), inspired by being door-stepped by Jehovah’s Witnesses, discuss how the series could form the basis of a religion. In the course of the discussion they briefly take on other parts, such as a Jehovah’s Witness, a preacher and even a couple of (puppet) aliens.

If you’re not a Doctor Who fan, much of what is said (including the humour) will go over your head: there are continuous references to episodes, the various Doctors, their companions and their adversaries. At one point the word “esoteric” is used and it seems a very appropriate one to describe this play. I have to admit that I found myself lost at times; I do watch the series (and have done since it first started back in 1963) but have never been tempted to immerse myself in it in the way many others do.

It’s a dialogue rather than a play, an exploration of a philosophical idea through discussion, in a tradition that stretches back to Plato, a tradition which allows the subject under discussion to be looked at from different points of view. However the intended audience is hardcore Doctor Who fans and, to judge from the reaction of the audience at the performance I saw, they will certainly enjoy it.