Sunday, October 29, 2006

Evil of the Daleks - Live on Stage

Yesterday I had the greatest pleasure in seeing the latest production from Rob Thrush and Nick Scovell live on stage in Portsmouth. Earlier productions were the Doctor Who stories The Web of Fear and Fury from the Deep, but this year they had turned their attention to Evil of the Daleks. If you missed it, then you missed a real treat. The script by Nick Scovell took the basics of the television story and distilled it down into two 45 minute parts which never dragged and never got boring. We're straight into the action as the Doctor (played admirably by Nick Scovell) and Jamie (a brilliant portrayal by John Paul McCrohon) find the TARDIS drawn to an old manor house in 1866 wherein something strange is afoot. They meet the Reverend Edward Waterfield (Lewis Bailey) whose daughter, Victoria (Rosie Grant) has been captured by aliens, and the bullish Theodore Maxtible (superbly played by James George) who invited the aliens in. Of course the aliens are the Daleks, and their first appearance, streaming out of a smoke filled 'cabinet' onto the stage is chilling and effective. Their voices are superb and threatening, and their movement smooth and chilling. Altogether the best use of the Daleks on stage that I can remember and totally putting those of The Ultimate Adventure to shame. The action remains in the house as people are hypnotised and controlled by the Daleks (Phil Cottril's Arthur Terral deserves a mention for his tremendous performance as the schizophrenic Dalek puppet) and Jamie is put to the test to try and rescue Victoria, leading to a first-part cliff hanger as the Daleks sweep in screeching that he will be exterminated. The second half opens with a reprise of the cliff-hanger, but surprise surprise, it's not Jamie who recieves the extermination but Mr Kennedy (Tim Skedge) who had been helping Maxible carry out his plans. With the Human Factor identifed, the Doctor realises that the Daleks were after the Dalek Factor all along ... and we head to a showdown with the massive Dalek Emperor. There was applause as the set opens to reveal this monstrosity swathed in smoke and light and the Emperor proceeds to convert Maxtible into a Dalek. The Doctor is next, but while wracked with pain, the two 'humanised' Daleks come to the rescue and soon the stage is full of pyrotechnics as the Emperor explodes, the Dalek menace is thwarted and the Doctor mutters the line 'the final end' as the production comes to a close. The audience was full of kids who all seemed to love seeing the Daleks gliding about on stage, and the adults appreciated the intelligent script and superb performances from all involved. For a low budget production, it really didn't show, and I give all cudos to Nick and Rob and everyone involved for a superb reinterpretation of one of Doctor Who's most fondly remembered classic adventures. I really hope the team put on something else soon as they are getting better and better and live on stage adds a whole new dimension to the enjoyment of Who. For more information, visit the production website at Cast pics by David C Tozer.

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