There are some one-star reviews which actually sell tickets: which make a show sound so unique, so iconic in its badness, that you can't resist going to see it. This might, just might, be one of those. Space Doctor is truly terrible, but it's the kind of terrible of which cults are made.
The set-up's actually quite clever. It goes without saying that it's a parody of Doctor Who, but there's a nice little twist in the back-story: far from being a national treasure, the fictional series Space Doctor was a notorious ratings bomb. Nonetheless, there's a fandom (there's always a fandom), who've gathered at the Brighton Fringe to re-enact the opening episode. The original cast have agreed to take part, and for reasons I can't quite remember, the actual King Henry VIII is also involved.
So where does it all go wrong? By way of a clue, here's a representative selection of jokes: "The sun is purple now!" exclaims one character. "I thought The Sun was a red-top", replies another. Or how about this gem: "We're the perfect team! Unlike Charlton Athletic." In case you're wondering, no, I haven't missed out the punchline there – it really is that unfunny.
The story does feature some pleasing timey-wimey shenanigans, and there's a satisfying second plot twist which I won't be mean enough to spoil. But there's a Dalek who turns out to be a cake stand, a technician who puts a wig on and marries Henry VIII, and a scene where the Doctor is surprised in a toilet. Oh, and they do the Floral Dance… though to be fair, that bit's actually quite entertaining.
All this might be fine if it was a fast-paced zany farce. But it isn't. There's the requisite amount of running on and off stage, but the early action is slowed down by some ill-advised comedy doubling, and pretty much every technical cue was hit a second or two later than it should have been.
Yet there is a glimmer of hope for Space Doctor. A smattering of good jokes is hiding among the stinkers – and my gut feeling is that the actors would be quite capable, if they weren't saddled with such abysmal lines. The Doctor himself is an entertaining creation, halfway between Tom Baker and Peter Davison, and the projected video work near the start of the show is significantly more promising than the live action on stage.
So here's the irony: a show about a TV series that's "so bad it's good" is, itself, so bad it's… well, almost tolerable. That's meta enough to tear the very fabric of space-time, and I guess there's an outside chance it's what they intended all along. Either way though, I'm sorry – I'll certainly remember Space Doctor, but I just wasn't a fan.