Revisiting Doctor Who: Partners in Crime

Imposing arbitrary limits on your own writing can be fun. Here’s an example, from a 2008 review of Doctor Who

Writing a review for Merrily We Roll Along in reverse (to match the narrative technique of the musical) earlier today was fun, even if I don’t think it really came off as well as it did in my head on the way home last night.

It was fun to try, though. Every so often, it’s useful to impose a strange limit on yourself as a way of shaking up how you write.

As an example, back in 2008 I reviewed the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who, Partners in Crime. The episode saw Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble, previously seen in Christmas special The Runaway Bride, rejoin the Doctor. A seemingly throwaway line about bees disappearing (a sci-fi spin on a real world problem) would turn out to have a greater significance nearer the end of the series. At the time, though, it spurred me to write the review using only 25 letters of the alphabet. And yes, that did mean that mention of Bernard Cribbins by name was out…

Originally published on The Stage’s website, it’s reproduced here in full.

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Much Ado about cast recordings

Whenever a new musical comes to the West End, there’s always a bit of a buzz about a possible cast recording. Different productions take wildly different views: Love Never Dies put its cast recording on sale so far in advance that it was more of a concept album than a record of the eventual stage production, in any of its reworked forms. Legally Blonde the Musical waited until there was obvious demand for a West End version in addition to the original Broadway recording, while Stiles and Drewe’s magnificent music for Betty Blue Eyes may eventually be available next month (although a sampler CD was issued with the Evening Standard newspaper as part of the show’s initial publicity drive). And while Ghost the Musical, which holds its press night tomorrow, hasn’t officially released its cast recording yet, it’s currently available to listen in a streamed form on the show’s Facebook page.

What’s unusual, though, is for a straight play to release a cast recording. But the production of Much Ado About Nothing currently playing at Wyndham’s has done just that.

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Much Ado About Nothing, Wyndham’s Theatre

Editor’s Rating

Of all the companions that David Tennant’s Doctor had during his spell in the TARDIS, it was Donna Noble that suited him the best. Pitting Catherine Tate against Tennant’s fast-talking wide boy was a match of competing, but equal, egos. When a double act works as well as Tennant’s and Tate’s did, it’s easy to reach for the Hepburn-Tracy comparison – but it feels appropriate with this pair of actors, who fizzle and spark off each other so well that it’s hard to believe that The Runaway Bride was the first time they had worked together.

So it’s good to see that now Tennant has long since turned over his TARDIS key to the new guy, the pair have found an opportunity to work together again, in Josie Rourke’s exuberant version of Shakespeare’s screwball comedy. Casting Tennant as Benedick and Tate as Beatrice feels a safe decision – not in the sense of not casting dangerously, but in that one knows that the pair will be able to portray the ups and downs of the prototypical odd couple extremely effectively.

That said, I honestly hadn’t expected Much Ado About Nothing to be so funny. Many renditions of Shakespeare’s comedies induce little more than polite laughter, but this production regularly induces real bellyaches.

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Much Ado About Nothing, Wyndham’s Theatre4Scott Matthewman2011-07-27 12:43:00Of all the companions that David Tennant’s Doctor had during his spell in the TARDIS, it was Donna Noble that suited him the best. Pitting Catherine T…