Great Yorkshire Fringe: Any Suggestions, Doctor? An Improvised Adventure in Time & Space!

Sunday 23rd July, The Tea Pot

The Great Yorkshire Fringe is here, hooray! Hoorah! Etcetera! I’m so, so happy that this festival has become a yearly fixture in York, and this year I’m more determined than ever before to make the most of having so much comedy, theatre and performance on my doorstep and to see as much of it as I can. And I’ll be blogging about as much of it as my little fingers will physically allow!

Aside from the second heat of the New Comedian of the Year competition which we caught on Saturday (and which was delightfully/horrifically hit and miss, as it should be), this performance by York company Any Suggestions Improv was the first comedic delight we experienced of the festival. Mostly driven by my intense jealously of Americans who seem to have improv classes and television shows coming out their ears, I jumped at the chance to see an improv piece, and on the whole, we weren’t disappointed.

The idea of the show is that the audience get to witness a new episode of Doctor Who which is made up on the spot with the help of audience suggestions, musical accompaniment, some fun costumes and a heavy dose of imagination. The cast did a great job of getting the audience’s energy up at the beginning of the performance, whooping and high-fiving their way through the crowd in full Doctor regalia, before getting a few suggestions thrown out and having us vote for this show’s Doctor (picking from the six-strong cast). The chosen Doctor ended up being the only woman in the ensemble, Louise Jones, who was a perhaps slightly-too-coincidentally topical choice!

So the ‘episode’ commenced! What followed was an at times slightly confused but generally laughter-filled York-set tale featuring wig-adorned aliens, lethal lavatories and some delightfully terrible club dancing. Charles Deane was a particular stand-out as the hilarious be-goggled plumber, and Harry Whittaker produced a lot of laughs as local DJ ‘Barry Bittaker’ (helped along by what seemed to be a handful of somewhat familiar audience members). Unfortunately, Louise Jones didn’t quite steal the show as the Doctor; some jokes fell flat or were drowned out by others, and I was disappointed that there were several missed opportunities to poke fun at the relevance of a female Doctor.

Alexander Rushfirth, who provided live music throughout the show (I think for the first time, which makes it even more remarkable), was the hidden gem of the show. Without his impressively-timed sci-fi accompaniment the performance would have lacked atmosphere and pace, and I forgot he was there on more than one occasion – which I mean purely as a compliment – because the music often sounded pre-recorded. And an honourable mention goes out to the audience, who were possibly the most enthusiastic I have ever encountered – the clear Dr Who superfan sitting in front of us was LIIIVING for some of the jokes, and it was a true delight to watch.

All in all, a fun and energetic improv adventure that makes a great family show (don’t expect any adult content, if that’s your bag) and guarantees a good time and plenty of laughs – even if they are mostly titters, not eye-waterers. Catch Any Suggestions, Dr? at the Edinburgh Fringe from August (or don’t, I’m not like, affiliated or summink).