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Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Monsters Are Coming!

I've just got in from Doctor Who Live at Cardiff International Arena! And what a great night it was! I took my nephew with me, who is 11 and going through the stage where everything is either "a'righ', yeah" or "crap!" so I knew from the off that this would be a hard sell, though he's a huge Who fan just like his favourite uncle! Even he loved it! I've never heard so many "cool"s come out of his mouth before!

The show started at 7pm on the dot, which was good because we'd been inside - out of the rain, spending a small fortune on merchandise - for about half hour already, by that point. 

All around us were young kids dressed as characters from the show; a Dalek, a Cyberman and THREE different Doctors all shared the same row as us! And one of those Doctors, the Second Doctor, was clearly an older kid than most. I'd say about 40 years older. But that just goes to show how much enthusiasm people have for this show! The audience was probably 50% kids and 50% big kids, I've never seen so many smiling bald heads in my life.

And they had good reason to smile. Before the show even started the atmosphere was thick with excitement and nerves. Already people were looking into dark doorways and overreaching arches for anywhere the monsters may have come from. And the stage was lit to perfection and containing a 16 piece band, conducted by the star of the show (for me) Ben Foster. Their opening tune, an electro-fied slowdown whurrr of the Who theme, is something I WANT! It was magic. And then the show kicked off in magnificent style.

Featuring all the most memorable monsters from the last five years of the show, Live is played as if you were watching a "Carnival Of Monsters" laid on for you by "The Greatest Showman In The Galaxy", Vorgenson- played perfectly by Young One's star Nigel Planer. Predictably, but thankfully, the Doctor gets tied up in the mess created when Vorgenson kidnaps the monsters for his travelling show and it's up to us - the audience - to help the Time Lord save the day. And short of Matt and Karen actually being on stage each night (which they aren't) the show could not have been more fun! Kids will love the monsters and the silly jokes. Oldies will revel, as I did, in the persistent classic-series episode titles which are slipped into Vorgenson's dialogue throughout the show - as well as a very blatant nod to a much-misunderstood classic adventure (can you guess which?). Music lovers will... love the music.

Actually, lets talk about the music, which - for this show - is as far from the classical beauty of the proms as you can get! Foster conducts nothing short of a rock band with strings and horns. All of the music has had a polish, with the "final monster"'s theme benefiting most from the metalled-up makeover. At the same time, here is a sequence where all previous Doctors appear on a screen and I defy anyone to sit through it with a dry eye  - the emotion is overwhelming. The whole concert part of the show feels like something very special that you may never get to experience again. Hearing the themes we know so well played live, and ramped up some, just makes it all so much more meaningful. 

There are also some pretty effective scares in there too! The pyrotechnics and lighting effects are unbelievably good. The size of the auditorium I saw the show in subtracted slightly from the grandiose of the "final illusion" but that's nothing to worry about. 

There is one section where everyone's favourite moving stone statues overrun the theatre which, I must admit, sent a shiver down my spine. The Weeping Angels' MO is brilliantly realised with nothing more than lights and sound. I don't think I've ever seen anything that made me smile so much... well, I probably have, but I'm still on a high from the show, so shhhh. Cybermen (some of the sexiest ever, in my opinion - there were definitely shapely young women in some of those Cybersuits. Either that or I need to start dating again SOON!) and Scarecrows scared me too, both being frighteningly effective at that ever since they were first shown on screen. 

But the praise must go to Nigel Planer for holding the whole thing together in such a way that you actually BELIEVED him to be a futuristic, intergalactic showman. Never a more hated pantomime villain was there, than ol' Vorgenson! Boos and hisses shook the room at his every appearance, especially after he... well, especially just after the interval. And, although he was only on a screen, Matt Smith's inserts were gorgeous. The man is, I am more certain of ever day, THE Doctor.

If you have tickets, you're in for a treat! If you have been already, let me know what you thought of the show in the comments below! If you haven't seen it, wait for the DVD to arrive next year, turn off the lights, get close to the screen - and whatever you do, don't blink*. I've had a brilliant night - so did my nephew - and given half a chance, I'd do it all again tomorrow! Superb show, top marks!

*Also, try not to vomit all over your mother and the seat, like the poor little kid sat in front of me did tonight, about ten minutes before the end of the show. Excitement, sweets and a very cool bow tie make for a messy Row C. I hope the poor thing was okay :)