One of the final events in Manchester’s Who @ 50 season was a show from performance poet Rod Tame whose witty observations and captivating tales of his myriad adventures in geekdom form the core of his one man show, Strange World, Odd People. Tame is a well-known name on the poetry scene and has this year launched his book of the same name from Flapjack Press as well as launching the National Media Museum’s Doctor Who exhibition.
Tame’s one-man show goes from the silly to the sublime via some emotionally charged moments. I’ve spoken before about how I think that one-man shows about a topic (and specifically Doctor Who) have inherent difficulties with narrative and focus. However, Tame’s show manages to be the finest example I’ve seen as he embraces love, absent parents and cult telly in an affectionate and heartfelt tribute to the genre.
Tame’s easygoing style immediately endears you to him, and when combined with his adventures in geekdom (including his proclamation to Tom Baker “I’m really must apologise, I’m a bit damp” seconds before a photograph – the ensuing image providing the first of many laughs throughout the show) makes for a very refreshing take on the one-man show.
It’s a cliche but you don’t need to be a science-fiction or cult TV fan to be able to enjoy the show. Tame provides enough visual cues and moments for anyone to be able to enjoy his show. The entire room was rocking with hysterics at several points during the show whether that be at his self-deprecating nature or at his lyrical story of an evil Alec Guinness.
Tame’s affection for his subject clearly shines through and none more so than in a beautiful segment where he invites the audience to read out submissions to his website on the theme of ‘What Doctor Who means to me’. Tame skillfully saves the best till last with a breathtaking submission of what Doctor Who means to a bipolar fan. For me, it was an emotionally charged highlight of my 50th anniversary. Indeed, Tame’s show crosses boundaries and proves what it means to be part of a community that is understanding, accepting and above all fun.
But it’s not all about geeky pursuits, and that is one of the main strengths of the show. An emotionally charged poem about Tame’s absent father proves to be a highlight. Describing his missing father, he comments of ‘a plot twist waiting to spring.. or a continuity error’. Suddenly, obsessions with John Steed and Doctor Who mean more than just a eccentric hobby – they have become father figures. Similarly he also explores issues of sexuality and specifically his love affair with Lois Lane.. or maybe Clark Kent instead from the 90’s series The New Adventures of Superman. The atmosphere of the room tangibly changes with the power of Tame’s performance as he draws parallels from his cosy fantasy worlds to the harsh realities of real life.
Much care has gone into crafting this show, and that care and attention to detail spills over into the performance. Strange World, Odd People is a beautiful and affectionate tribute from a naturally witty and sparky performer. Tame’s way with words is rhythmic and evocative. Whether it be a ode to Star Trek’s Scotty, or flashback to a much younger version of himself, Rod Tame’s one man journey will entrance, entertain and embrace you in its grasp. Magical.
The Fiction Stroker gives Strange World, Odd People five strokes out of five: