The Doctor, their companions and a rotating cast of monsters and ne’er-do-wells do battle in a smart and silly improvised Doctor Who parody. Here’s our Any Suggestions Doctor Edinburgh Fringe review.
Photo by Steve Ullathorne
Around 30-minutes into Any Suggestions Doctor’s latest improvised adventure, one of the cast members waltzed onstage wearing a cloak and declaring himself to be someone called Rassilon.
Having stopped watching Doctor Who somewhere around 2013, I wasn’t entirely sure who that was. My Doctoral knowledge stretched just far enough to gather that he’s probably some kind of time lord or other, a sentiment backed up by a big, time-lord-sounding voice. That didn’t really matter though, because next to him was a perpetually waving unicorn named Henry.
Any Suggestions marks its return to the Pleasance Courtyard for the umpteenth year with a show tailor-made to satisfy the sci-fi nuts in the audience. A big wooden TARDIS door dominates the stage, while a charmingly slap-dash command console can be wheeled in and out of scenes as the whims of the universe demand. The cast of six are clearly very up to date on their Doctor Who lore (their know-Who) and frequently pepper the show with knowing jabs about the Doctor’s brief time as President of Gallifrey and the Weeping Angels.
— Any Suggestions Improv (@ASImprov) August 8, 2023
For that reason, probably more than most similar improv at the Fringe, Any Suggestions is a show clearly made by the fans, for the fans. Whovians in the crowd will find so much to enjoy here that it’s hard to recommend this show highly enough for them. Thankfully, there’s also enough of your standardly ridiculous improvised fair to keep more agnostic audience members happy.
Despite a slightly stuttering start requiring a member of the audience to select the night’s Doctor with a big novelty dice, the loose structure of the show’s long-form improv is clinically good. From a classic Who-style cold open designed to let a couple of pesky red-shirts get munched by the night’s emerging monster, right through to an impressive soundscape perfectly capturing the vibe (if not the exact chord progression) of the show’s iconic score, the group have clearly put a lot of effort into making a live experience as close to the classic TV show as they can muster.
Similarly, the show’s plot work feels impressive even amongst the plethora of great improv shows at the Fringe. The slightly formulaic structure of your standard episode does help here – people/animals/sentient objects mysteriously disappear, Doctor and companion separate, Doctor gives a big speech and saves the day. Thankfully, it’s a structure which proves deeply satisfying to see unfold in an improv format while allowing for just the kind of zany madness that the medium thrives off.
Any Suggestions Doctor, then, is an absolute must-see for Who-fans; for everyone else, there’s a simple joy in seeing good improv done well. Any Suggestions Doctor has been landing back in Edinburgh for a good few years now – it would take a pretty sizeable space-time anomaly to stop them coming back for more.
Any Suggestions Doctor is playing at the Pleasance Dome at 17:30 until 27 August. Check out the rest of our Edinburgh Festival Fringe coverage here.