Who, Me. (Rob Lloyd) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

photo of the tenth Doctor, David Tennant

Who, Me. is a meditation on fandom written by and starring actor and big-time Whovian Rob Lloyd. An Australian native, he has taken his theatrical lampoon of BBC staple Doctor Who to stages around the globe, now including Toronto for the 2017 Fringe Festival.

One-man shows have been composed on a plethora of subject matter in the history of theatre and this catalogue now includes a love letter to one time-travelling Brit and his blue box. This is by no means a bad thing, as it opens the door to people who may not have given the performing arts their patronage otherwise.

With that in mind, the show takes on a fairly unique structure. It is a one-man show combined with stand-up comedy, with the overall tone one might experience at a comic-con fan’s discussion panel. The fusion of formats is, despite it’s quirky and nerdy appearance, quite energizing. The narrative is simple: Lloyd presents an imagined trial in which the Doctor Who franchise stands accused. On what crime? Ruining this poor nerd’s life. Or maybe, just maybe it enriched his personal growth and shaped how he sees the world. Or maybe a bit of both. We can’t divulge the sentence in this review, of course. Spoilers, sweetie.

Most stories ever written are at least somewhat about love. But here, Lloyd illustrates what it’s like to have a genuine, consuming passion for something. Even when it hurts, even when explaining it to other people is exhausting. What’s refreshing is how self-deprecating he is through his own show. In Who, Me. Lloyd fearlessly roasts himself and the trappings of nerd culture, but he also employs charm and wit in order to make it safe, even empowering, for us to laugh at ourselves.

Although the show does touch on nerdy and ‘straight white guy’ culture, it is not unpacked entirely. It presents a headscratcher for those of us who examine the crossroads of fandom and gender. For instance: if you acknowledge that nerd comedy and its baggage can be self-indulgent and laden with in-jokes but use those things anyway, does it absolve you? To be honest, I spent too much time giggling to really be able to figure that out. With his manic charisma and impressive sense of comic (wibbly wobbly) timing, it’s hard not to smile at Lloyd and his show at least a little.

Incidentally, laughing so much that I have difficulty engaging my critical thinking is both a wonderful and troubling thing. It means that this show is funny, that it resonates with it’s targeted audience, and that it succeeds at what it sets out to do. However, it does make my job as a critic harder. Although the show’s message is genuine and relatable, the comedy and premise do rely on at least a working knowledge of Doctor Who and it’s history, which at least makes it easy to determine who this show is meant for.

If this show is for you, though, you are in for a fantastic time.

Details:

  • Who, Me. plays at Tarragon Theatre Solo Room located at 30 Bridgman Ave
  • Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • 60 minute runtime.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Seating capacity is 60 persons
  • Content Warnings: Strong language

Performances:

6th July 6:00pm
8th July 8:30pm
10th July 5:45pm
12th July 8:15pm
13th July 9:45pm
14th July 10:30pm
15th July 4:30pm
16th July 12:30pm

Photo care of James Penlidis.

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