Live Who event will be like appearing in TV show promises writer

It’s your turn to step up and help the Doctor save the world. Entertainments writer WAYNE SAVAGE quizzes writer Tom MacRae about The Crash of the Elysium.

“IT all becomes about that huge sense of you’ve got to run - and you’ve got to do it now,” warns Tom, writer and co-creator of live Doctor Who adventure The Crash of The Elysium.

Who fans would expect no less when the interactive theatrical show materialises in Ipswich’s Crown Street Car Park from June 15-July 8.

Tickets went on sale at 10am via the New Wolsey Theatre last month. The box office took �16,000 in the first 30 minutes, 200 internet bookings were processed by 10.30am and a peak of 300 people accessed its website at the same time; never mind the constant queue of very excited bookers outside.

Somebody’s even coming from New Zealand to see the show.

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Tom’s giving nothing away when it comes to what audiences can expect when they turn up for an exhibition looking at the crash of the steam ship The Elysium in 1888.

Using an idea by current show-runner Steven Moffat as its starting point, Tom - who wrote series two’s Rise of The Cybermen and Age of Steel double-header and last year’s The Girl Who Waited - does promise fans a unique experience.

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“You’re not watching the show you’re in it. You don’t enter a room and get kept behind a barrier where you can’t go up and touch the Daleks. Here, you have full access to the world you walk into.”

That includes actual props from the TV show too; exciting for kids - big and small - who will get to touch stuff normally hidden behind museum cases.

“It’s such a sensory experience too, with changes in temperature and smell; all these things TV can’t communicate,” he adds.

“There’s a big sequence in the middle; this wonderful piece of effect happens and you end up in a very different place from where you expected. Because we build these very real worlds, what hits you is it smells completely different.”

Smell eh; are the Slitheen involved? Tom’s tight-lipped but says the Ipswich run of the show, created by the award-winning and internationally acclaimed immersive theatre pioneers Punchdrunk, may be the last.

So if you haven’t got your tickets yet, alonsi.

Despite premiering to great critical acclaim as part of the 2011 Manchester International Festival, there’s been no spoilers [sweetie] leaked online. Tom says the show has the fans to thank.

“People don’t want to spoil it, they play along so it’s actually been very easy to keep stuff secret.”

Every effort has been made to make you believe you’re the Doctor’s best friend and are helping him save the world.

You interact with real actors and never see beyond the world of the show. There’s no point where you see somebody with a Doctor Who T-shirt on giving out 3D goggles. Everyone you meet is in character, everywhere you go, all the time.

“It’s far more exciting than making the actual TV show,” laughs Tom.

“The kids who go though this have an experience the people, including myself, who make the show only wish we could have - which is that our lives were as exciting as the Doctors. If you go through the show, you get to walk in his footsteps in the most amazing way.”

He can’t speak highly enough of “theatrical wizards” Punchdrunk; describing their shows as a stunning blend of magic, excitement, adventure and impossibility.

“Once you enter a Punchdrunk show, the laws of physics are switched off until you leave again. There is no stage, no comfy seating, no division between the world of the audience and the world of the show. You are at the heart of the action, you drive the story forward. “No two shows will ever be the same, no individual adventure will ever be repeated. The madness and brilliance of Doctor Who could not find a better theatrical partnership than Punchdrunk.”

The other essential element, of course, is the audience.

Each show is different; ranging from hyper excited and courageous youngsters to easily frightened, squealing parents.

“I saw it 13 times when it was on in Manchester, I think I’ve seen it more than anyone else and I don’t mean behind the scenes watching it. I went it with the kids and it was always incredibly exciting and bare in mind not only had I seen it before but I’d written it so knew exactly what was going to happen and you just never get bored,” laughs Tom.

Although designed for children, the demand for adult shows saw extra dates added and some changes made.

Both shows are virtually the same. The after dark performances are - literally - a little darker and with adults the actors let go a bit more, turning up their fear to ratchet up the tension. A few more changes to make it scarier for adults could be made by the time it touches down in Ipswich.

The TV series introduces you to lots of characters, ideas and locations. Crash’s storyline may’ve been simplified but it still has those big emotional moments that make your spine tingle hiding behind the sofa on a Saturday night.

“It feels absolutely Doctor Who, you are in your own episode where you are the star,” says Tom, adding you don’t have be a fan of Who to enjoy this version.

“I took my best friend who knows nothing about Doctor Who; he’s not English so really knew nothing. I had to explain to him how there was this blue box and all rest of it. He absolutely loved it.

“That said, if you’ve watched even a couple of episodes over the last few years you’re going to see a few things that really are very exciting,” Tom teases. “And you will definitely see at least one familiar face too.”

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