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EDINBURGH 2015 - BWW Reviews: WHAT WOULD SPOCK DO?, Gilded Balloon, August 15 2015

I was really lucky growing up as a geek who liked Star Trek. My mum loved the show herself and some of my earliest memories are being plonked on the carpet on a Sunday morning to watch the adventures of Kirk, McCoy and the rest of the crew. Nor was it a problem with my peers - one of my best friends can tell you the serial number of any of the main Starfleet vessels.

Alas, not everyone is so fortunate, as we see in this sometimes funny, sometimes poignant new play, What Would Spock Do? by Jon Brittain, the writer behind Margaret Thatcher: Queen of Soho. Sam Donnelly plays Gary, a geek who hides his fannishness from laddish workmates, having learned that being an out and proud fanboy at school and trying to follow the message of everyone's favourite Vulcan was a surefire route to a galaxy of misery at the hands of his classmates.

The story of why Gary stopped being a fan is really emotive, particularly for anyone who has ever experienced the powerlessness of being bullied. The resulting shame over his closeted fandom leads to him messing up his chances with his dream woman. There's a happier ending though, courtesy of a beautifully foreshadowed climax set into motion by the death of beloved Spock actor Leonard Nimoy earlier this year and with a splash of comedy along the way.

Donnelly turns in an energetic performance, singlehandedly keeping the show going for an hour and demonstrating a gift for accents as he brings to life the other characters in Gary's life. As Gary finally gains the courage to be himself, you'll root for him to live long and prosper. The show is accompanied by a great soundtrack, mostly music from or inspired by Star Trek, with an added bonus of the highly appropriate "I Am What I Am".

You don't have to be enough of a Trekkie to know your Romulans from your Cardassians to enjoy it, as it's a show that will resonate with anyone who has ever had a passionate appreciation for something. However, for those of us who always wanted to go where no one has gone before, What Would Spock Do? is the only logical show to see at the Fringe this year.

What Would Spock Do? is at the Gilded Balloon at 12:30 on August 16-18, 20-25, and 27-31.


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