When one hears the word 'nerd', one usually thinks of a sweaty, overweight, middle-aged man with a neckbeard and a penchant for inviting his D&D crew over for a rollicking trip to Mordor in his parents' basement.
So, when I heard about Rob Lloyd, a self-professed acceptor of the nerd within, the aforementioned neckbearded forty-something popped into my head and refused to leave. What I didn't expect to see onstage during Who, Me. was a David Tennant-esque man clad in a vest and a variety of geeky pins, with nary a neckbeard in sight. The night only improved from there.
Who, Me. is a comedy show with a storyline, an inflatable TARDIS, and a little bit of time travel to boot. The Doctor, lead character of Doctor Who (a long-running (and incredibly nerdy) sci-fi TV show), is being put on trial for his crimes. His most sinister? Ruining Rob Lloyd's life.
Let's start from the beginning, though, even if it turns out to be the end and we have to start everything over again (time can get a bit wibbly-wobbly, as a Who fan should know). Rob Lloyd is, as I said, an acceptor of the nerd within. Before Who he had various incarnations of Sherlock Holmes (which inspired his previous Fringe Festival show, A Study in Scarlet (A Study of...)), and during his Doctor Who downtime he became a Star Wars fanatic. As a kid he was a drama nerd, and has turned that into acting gigs on Thank God You're Here and in both group and solo comedy performances, with Who, Me. being the latter.
His show starts at the end accidentally and to cover his mistake he leads the crowd in a sing-along before time travelling back to the beginning (wibbly-wobbly) and starting proper. The initial courtroom scene feels a little disjointed as the audience have to come to terms with Rob playing every character, including Sherlock Holmes himself at one point, but he quickly gets into the swing of the performance and by the end the subtle Doctor Who references are sending the crowd into peals of laughter. Repeated interactivity makes audience members really feel like they could be the jury that Rob is making them out to be, and stories of how Who fans used to be rejected by people that society itself has already rejected struck a note with every socially awkward fanboy and girl who attended.
Once Rob's reached the end (again), there's a dramatic and intentionally heavy-handed interpretive dance piece covering the lives and regenerations of every Doctor, from One to Eleven. Each Doctor has a signature move relating back to their appearances on the show, and each regeneration gets progressively more impressive until the lights drop and the audience thunder their approval. The little quirks of Rob's stories and the subtlety in his final dance are much easier to understand if you've seen a little Doctor Who in your time, but even a non-fan can empathise with the power of obsession, and the awkwardness of liking something that maybe not everyone else will like with you.
Who, Me. is an excellent piece from a now-seasoned Melbourne Fringe Festival performer, and well worth the entry fee. Even if you were one of the cool kids at high school, I guarantee that there'll be something in the show for you. After all, hasn't everyone stolen twenty Doctor Who tapes from video rental stores Australia-wide?