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My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver
Published on Thursday, 16 August 2012
4

4 stars

Gilded Balloon Teviot (venue website)
Comedy
1-14, 16-26 Aug, 3:10pm-4:10pm
Reviewed by Will Howard

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

It’s perhaps unsurprising how loaded the term “obsession” has become these days. Despite the fact that 18-to-30-year-old obsessive fans now more or less control the major film industry, there is still a stigma against grown men or women who carry a torch for a passion that the mainstream says they should have outgrown. However, alongside the growth of this stigma has been the fact that these people have now reached the age where others trust (and crucially, listen to) what they say. Toby Hadoke is a case in point: first rising to prominence with his stand-up show Moths Ate my Doctor Who Scarf, which defended his passion and explained how he shared it with his two sons, he’s now back with a new show about Doctor Who and his step-son – which proves a different beast altogether.

Right off the bat, this is a show for anyone who has – or has put up with – an obsession of any sort. For a show based around a cult sci-fi programme, Hadoke manages to make My Step-Son Stole My Sonic Screwdriver extremely accessible. Relating his own experiences, which we can all (to an extent) relate to, his story seems fascinatingly his own, rather than alienating those who don’t share his passion. One of the reasons that it could appeal to anyone is that it’s very, very funny; Hadoke expertly weaves jokes about anything from the Coalition government to his own (rather serious) medical condition. The material would be entertaining on its own, but is even better through a TARDIS-shaped lens.

And what if you are a fellow obsessive? Well, while he does make fun of Doctor Who itself from time to time (pun intended), it never comes across as anything less than a profound part of his childhood – and his adulthood, and the childhood of his step-son, too. That, I feel is one of the strong points of this show. It could so easily have been a predictable study, of someone realizing that their love of something juvenile was keeping them from growing up. But no: Hadoke takes it very seriously indeed, and expertly explains why over the course of the show.

This is where a serious, melancholic side to the show is revealed; Hadoke reveals that his drive to share his passions with his son is down to his essentially non-existent relationship with his own father. It’s a testament to Hadoke’s prowess as a comedian that this never leads to too abrupt a shift in tone, but it explains an awful lot about Hadoke’s drive to be a part of his step-son’s life. It also makes the audience really care about the TV programme, regardless of whether they actually watch it. This odd, (historically) cheap, little sci-fi show could be what connects a child with a strange new father figure in his life. You don’t have to be able to tell your Sea Devils from your Silurians to know that that is some deep stuff to put in a tea-time, family-oriented show – but hey, deep themes in a family show worked for Doctor Who!

In the end, this is an unashamedly feel-good performance, with an overall message of the importance of family – and how, correctly applied, even the most unlikely things can bring people together.  It drips sentimentality but miraculously, never overdoes it. It’s perhaps not one for someone who actively doesn’t like Doctor Who, and there is one moment concerning Hadoke’s father I thought was rather too bitter to work in context. But the feeling soon passes – and what you’re left with is a hilarious, thought-provoking stand up show that is bursting with joy, passion and energy. Highly recommended.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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