Greg Baldino writes for Bleeding Cool
Throughout its fifty-year run of a centuries-old alien time traveler running down corridors with an attractive young woman from goofy looking monsters, Doctor Who has long begged a question. Perhaps THE question–the first question, the question that must never be answered, hidden in plain sight:
What if the centuries-old alien time traveler WAS an attractive young woman?
The answer finally comes courtesy of the Gorilla Tango Theatre's fantastic revue Don't Blink: A Doctor Who Burlesque. Joining the company's burlesque repertoire of such pulchritudinous parodies as the Star Wars send-up A Nude Hope and the Indiana Jones imitation Temple of Boobs, the show brings the Doctor to Chicago for the greatest multi-Doctor story arc since the Five Doctors.
It begins when the 11th Doctor arrives on an alien world, only for his ginger-haired companion to point out that he has in fact taken on the form of an attractive young woman. The force behind this gender swap, we learn has in act transformed the Doctor in all of his regenerations, prompting them to team up against scantily-clad Cyberwomen, roller disco Daleks, a Weeping Angel who's apparently been reading Nicholson Baker's The Fermata, and more.
The show is really quite clever, and playwright "Busty" Warren manages to work in a slew of references to Who's past and present, as well as a few lovely touches on the fandom itself. One such touch is the framing device of a PBS pledge drive; a nod to Chicago's WTTW which ran episodes of the original series back in the day. Ingenious also is using the fantastical elements of DW in tandem with the tongue-in-cheekiness of burlesque. In the first monster dance number, the Doctor and his companion are accosted by a trio of Cyberwomen, only to escape by throwing gold glitter on them. The glitter both harkens back to the classic Mondas Cybermen's gold allergy, and—by getting everywhere, as glitter does—prompts the electroplated ecdysiasts to have to remove their clothing.
It's a very methodical script.
And it's a solid sixty minutes of fun. The jokes are funny, and the performers have managed to effectively capture the dialogue rhythms, gestures, and general demeanors of the various Doctors. Of special note is the performance of Irene Goodnight as the Fourth Doctor, who manages the task of both channeling Tom Baker and giving him a playful sexiness that bring the Fourth Doctor into line with the Tumblr-ready eroticism of the new series.
jThe show is sixty minutes long, and manages to fit in plenty of sketches and dance routines that range from sexy to bawdy to beautiful. The direction of Katherine Siegel and the choreography of Kay Smiles do a lot with a little, making creative use of the Theatre's space and the magic of the stage to travel through time and space by suspending disbelief and raising a few skirts.
Only the 4th, 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors get the Gorilla Tango treatment, which works out just right. To give all eleven Doctors stage time would have required stretching the show longer than the War Games, not to mention bringing back more and more astro-baddies to chase after the heroines while wearing very little clothing. And as much as we all want to see the Terileptils come back a sex striptease is really not the best form for them. Plus, the Sylvester McCoy Doctor would just be terrible as a sexy girl.
…The Colin Baker Doctor could have worked though.
At least there'd be a built-in excuse to get out of that ridiculous costume.
Photo Credit: Greg Inda
Don't Blink: A Doctor Who Burlesque runs through May 31st at the Gorilla Tango Theatre in Chicago, IL. Tickets and showtimes are available here.
Greg Baldino never thought it would be his job to watch attractive young women without any clothes on act out his favorite television series, but he always secretly hoped.
Follow him on twitter @gregbaldino