Back in 1989, age 15, I went to the Wimbledon Theatre to ‘enjoy’ The Ultimate Adventure. I was going to say I actually ‘endured’ it. Not only is that a cheap joke, but it’s also untrue. It was a fun romp and seeing Jon Pertwee live on stage as the Doctor was an unmissable experience.
But back then, I was a bit too teenage, and Doctor Who was in a bit of the doldrums. The TV show was improving, but you could feel there was little investment in the programme from the BBC and the media. Sure enough, later that year was the final season of the first run.
Even from the cheap seats, I could see things like the Ultimate Adventure Daleks weren’t quite right. They were the wrong shape and colour, and you could spot the operator inside through the mesh. Despite this, the spectacle of experiencing my favourite show live in front of me is a memory I still treasure.
So, more than 30 years later, I had the opportunity to make more memories with my own son, aged 10, who’s more wide-eyed and enthusiastic than my cynical 15-year-old self was back in the day. Yes, we booked – as a double birthday treat – to see Time Fracture in a performance in July. Pandemic, be damned – nothing could stop us from being in a Doctor Who adventure, if only for the evening.
Sadly, due to an incident that wasn’t so much timey-wimey as rainey-wainey, 23rd July was pushed back to 20th November and the date eventually became 4th December. Flash floods had damaged some of the sets and the summer programme was abandoned. So, when at last we stood outside the stage door in December, we already felt a sense of achievement (and relief).
Time Fracture is an immersive theatre event, where you are taken on an adventure through various rooms with actors playing the part of Doctor Who universe characters, monsters, and aliens. At the end of the performance, we were asked (by the Doctor herself) not to give away the plot in detail. But from the trailer, posters, and publicity, it is well known that Jodie Whittaker and David Bradley both perform as the Doctor (on screen), and that in the mix are Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, Time Lords, and a pig slave.
The adventure itself progresses from start to finish with all of the audience taking part. But there are multiple passages and ways that you interact with the cast, which means there are many divergent paths you can take. What impressed me the most was how well the cast involved my young son. We went with one actor in particular on a quest, and the cast member was brilliant at making sure he was at the heart of the action.
I’ve read other reviews where people have complained about the simplicity of the adventure, but that misses the point. Like Doctor Who, this is a family show and needs to appeal across age groups. I think they pitched it pretty perfectly. Plus there were ample opportunities to buy drinks for those who wanted a more grown up experience.
There were several moments of genuine scares, lots of laughs, and the sets were excellent – re-using actual props from the programme, which was a thrill in itself. The attention to details of the world-building was evident all around, and relied more on the actors to bring it to life rather than just elaborate effects. But when there were a few sirens, whizzes and flashes, it all added to the atmosphere.
Overall, it was clearly an experience created by people who really love the show, for others who love it too. It reminded me of what is so magical and special about this strange old programme, particularly seeing it through the eyes of my 10-year-old. He loved every minute. I know that for a fact, because he keeps regaling people with minute-by-minute accounts.
If you want an experience that fully immerses you into the world of Doctor Who then Time Fracture really is the ultimate adventure. Highly recommended for all ages and species. Leave your cynicism at the door and you’ll have an evening to remember for the rest of your days. Also: bring beer money.
But don’t just take my word for it, here’s what my son, Benedict, age 10, thinks:
Time Fracture was AMAZING! It was really well done and it felt as if I was in an episode of Doctor Who. It had an exciting storyline but some parts of it are definitely not for the faint hearted. What was really good was when my dad and I were picked up by an explorer and went searching for pieces to do something, which ended up in us releasing one of the Doctor’s enemies. It was so realistic that I could not tell whether it was an actor or not. If you are a Doctor Who fan, Time Fracture is a must see.