Innes Lloyd: Time Lord {Melbourne International Comedy Festival} – Comedy Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Given my love for improvised theatre and a certain Gallifreyan Doctor there was always a good chance that I was going to like Time Lord. My only question before attending was ‘How they would take 60 years of Doctor lore and fit it into a stage show?’, especially given that because of legal constraints certain words and phrases could not be used.

I need not have worried because I loved every single moment of Time Lord. As David Innes took to the stage and welcomed everyone, it felt like I had gone back in time and was watching an old-fashioned radio play take place in front of me. The décor of The Butterfly Club further enhanced that 1950s experience.

To the credit of the three writers on hand for the night, they took the pretty average suggestions put forward by the audience and conjured up some magical story pitches. After a quick audience vote, it was Jessica Lu’s story that was selected and the Whovian fun began.

Her 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 schoolteacher named Mr Marshall (David Innes), and a student who has no self-belief.

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

It was also very clear to me that this was not one of those improvisation troupes that ‘cheat’ a little by basically having everything planned out before the audience comes into the theatre. This was completely improvised and that made the performance seem even more natural to me.

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 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.

Looking back, I guess that was one of my biggest fears and one I am sure that a lot of fans of the Dr Who television series would have going into this show was who plays which doctor. With Towan’s great performance though, that fear is quickily put to rest.

Also adding to the vibe of the night were the simplistic sets and props which 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 globe.

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. In the case of the ‘big city’ slip up it then became a running gag that Brunswick is “so far away” from the city that it feels like a journey on its own. Those kinds of moments show the creativity of the team involved and once again, reminded me why I love the unexpected journeys that improvised theatre can take you on.

Of course, the storyline at hand is going to change every night that Time Lord is performed and the chances of the plotline that I saw repeating is slim, but I have confidence that no matter which night you turn up to see Time Lord, you are going to be impressed by the work that the cast and writer serve up.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a fan of a certain time-travelling doctor, are a newbie when it comes to this universe, or you just like improvised theatre, with Time Lord, you are in for a night of laughs, giggles, and pure talent.

Innes Lloyd‘s Time Lord is now playing at The Butterfly Club as part of the 2023 Melbourne International Comedy Festival until April 2nd.
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Photography by Fabrizio Evans.

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