Writer: Daniel Dingsdale
Director: Tom Maller
Subtitled ‘theatre for the adventurous’ on adverts, Dr Who: Fracture may disappoint some who expect a little more from immersive experiences of this kind. The sets, the costumes, even the occasional Dalek, all look sensational, but the audience still remains a passive player in this story to save the universe.
Of course, Time Fracture is not an escape room, and the tasks you are set as soon as you enter a control room full of TV screens, and boffins trying to stabilise the universe, its demise brought about a German bomb dropped in 1942, will have no relevance on the show’s outcome. And once you realise that you have no influence in the storyline, your role is only to observe.
Of course, there’s lots to see, and lots to admire, and split up into different groups for the first half, your experience will likely be different to other members of the audience. You might meet Davros, the evil creator of the Daleks, or go back in time to meet Leonardo da Vinci, or even Queen Elizabeth I. But soon these interactions lose something of their sparkle, and many people end up in a sort of futuristic bar wondering what to do next. Eager time lords will come to whisk you off into another hidden space, but each journey seems random and you could easily return to where you have just been.
The experience lasts 2 hours and 15 minutes, but 30 minutes of this is an interval in a bar on a spaceship, and while there are some excellent alien singers to accompany us on our intergalactic trip, it does seem too long, and there’s not much to do here but buy space-age cocktails. With admission already costing £60 for adults, Time Fracture is an expensive night out.
But for Whovians, there is chance to see some classic Dr Who monsters – no more spoilers here – and there is one part that is genuinely scary, and, while this scene only lasts a few minutes, it does give a glimpse to what this show could have been. Of course COVID may have halted other parts of this show, but, even though the audience is reminded about social distancing, there are times when there is crowding around tight corners, and often the unmasked actors come very close to speak conspiratorially into your ear.
The cast is huge, and every actor, over 42 of them, does their best to keep the audience engaged, and Rebecca Brower’s design is detailed and impressively imagines locations from the TV programme. But it can’t quite distract from the story’s shortcomings, and the tone is too tongue-in-cheek, and too saccharine, criticisms that have also been levelled at the most recent series on BBC. Only once will you want to hide behind the sofa.
With a little museum at the end of the route, perhaps Time Fracture is designed for superfans only. For the casual viewer, the experience may be a little lacklustre. It’s going to take more than a sonic screwdriver to fix this show.
Runs until April 2022