FRINGE 2016: THEATRE – What Would Spock Do? – The White Queen – 4.5K

Fandom is a way of life and, let’s face it, if you’re not part of a particular fandom, the passion can seem a little odd from the outside. This seems to be particularly true with regards to fandoms relating to science fiction. Why are these obsessions viewed by society as strange when others, such as with sporting teams, aren’t? Who knows? At the end of the day though, they are, and so for some, being a member of this group is not something they proudly acknowledge, but rather something that is hidden.

Such is the case here for the protagonist, Gary. Gary is a 30 year old guy, who has fashioned himself a life involving a decent, if uninspiring, job, and a circle of colleagues-come-friends, who like drinking and football, and for whom television shows or films set in space are interchangeable. His childhood passion for Star Trek, and particularly Mr Spock, has been relegated to online interactions and a covert annual trip to a convention, for a childhood friend’s birthday. These two parts of Gary’s life are very separate and, if he had his way, ne’er the twain shall meet. A desire which is complicated by the appearance of an attractive temp, Kira, dressed as Mr Spock.

There are plenty of intricate details interspersed throughout writer/director Jon Brittain’s script, which should succeed in giving super-fans a nerdgasm. At the same time, this is done in a manner that is also non-exclusionary for those who might only be familiar with the show on a more casual viewing basis, or through general pop-culture knowledge. Brittain has managed to finely balance the creation of a portrait of fandom with the overarching examination of love, passion and the development of an acceptance of oneself.

Performer Sam Donnelly is terrific, giving Gary just the right blend of awkward geek and average bloke. As he takes us through Gary’s inner monologues and accompanying interactions – often stepping into the roles of Kira, various friends and family members, and the school bully Shane – you can understand the dilemma he’s facing and where his bad choices are coming from, while also wanting to slap him for being so stupid. Occasionally the transitions between characters are a little clunky, when Donnelly actually moves from one spot on the stage to another in order to show the change, however for the most part they work well and are smoothly executed with a simple shift of body language. The conversation between Gary and his mother, as she tries to understand the premise of Star Trek, is one hilarious highlight.

What Would Spock Do? is sure to have fans laughing as they see themselves and/or friends reflected in Gary’s story, but is also a highly enjoyable piece of theatre regardless of your sci-fi knowledge base.

Kryztoff rating: 4.5K

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