The Pyramids of Margate

While the BBC's iconic sci-fi series Doctor Who is currently one of the biggest, most popular shows on television at the moment - and it's likely to be everywhere this November, when it marks its 50th anniversary - the clichés of the Doctor Who geek (or 'Whovian', as they've become known) remain strong. David Kennedy, the focus of this one man play written and performed by Martin Stewart, certainly lives up to those expectations: he's forty, single, works in IT (for Thanet District Council), is ever-so-slightly fixated on the 1970’s Doctor Who of his childhood and has social difficulties when it comes to most one-to-one, face-to-face interactions - though especially those with a rather beautiful young Polish woman at work called 'Aggie'. His ineptitude when it comes to making small-talk is underlined even more by his other chief obsession, the search for the radio 'noise' from the sky which suggests that there is intelligent life out there. He's a 'Setizen', offering up his laptop's spare data crunching capacity most evenings to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), in the hope of discovering the biggest conversation ever.

Down on planet Earth, though, David has problems, not least whether he's just messed up his one chance of a date with Aggie after his over-the-top impersonation of a 1973 Doctor Who villain called Omega, during an after-work drinks session. This highlights writer Martin Stewart's perceptive use of Doctor Who's iconography, given that Omega has, at that point, just discovered that he no longer physically exists - important, since David himself admits to feeling black and white compared to everyone else's high definition Technicolor.

Delivered as a lively, stage-filling monologue, The Pyramids of Margate is the heartfelt story of a lonely man still attempting to cope with the loss of his mother nine months earlier, retreating either into memories of his one attempt at writing a Doctor Who script or his childhood enjoyment of 'Journey Into Space', his favourite ride in Margate's long-since abandoned pleasure park, Dreamland. Either that, or his hopeful dreams of historic glory when, against all statistical evidence to the contrary, he is the one who helps prove the existence of alien intelligence in the universe.

Martin Stewart's script is tight and, for the most part, very good at showing rather telling; also, while the included 'facts' about Doctor Who are pin-point accurate, you don't actually need to be a Whovian to enjoy David Kennedy's story. As a performer, Stewart is good at engaging with the audience, a lively, sweating presence who generates real sympathy for his character's foibles and fractured dreams. Which makes it a slight shame that the whole show ends with something of a whimper; a switch to gratuitous info-dumping which isn't quite gratuitous enough to make it fully work.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Multiple Venues

Nests

★★★
Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Police Cops in Space

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Marmite

★★★★

Performances

The Blurb

Doctor Who obsessive seeks alien life for fun and possibly more. GSOH. Will David succeed in his search for extraterrestrial intelligence? Or will he find earthly happiness with the beautiful Polish girl from accounts? Sci-fi tragicomedy.