Kermode and Mayo provided an evening of brilliantly laid back entertainment, jovially curing the cinematic ailments of a more than enthusiastic crowd.
BBC Radio 5 presenters and renowned film critics, Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo visited The Nuffield Theatre this weekend to cure some of the Southampton’s most dire cinematic ailments in their acclaimed Movie Doctors show.
As the duo explained at the beginning of the show, the idea behind Movie Doctors came from a place of friendly chiding, wherein they compared each other’s doctorates. Kermode earned his “proper” PHD at the University of Manchester after writing a thesis on horror fiction, while Mayo (to the playful chagrin of Kermode), received an “honorary” doctorate from the University of Warwick.
Their first Movie Doctors show, as they also noted, took place in Southampton at the Harbour Lights Picture House – therefore giving the feeling that the premise was more or less coming full circle that evening, despite it being the penultimate leg of their tour.
The show, which is best seen when accompanied, or even followed by a read of the duo’s sturdy book of the same name, aims to provide the answers to some of the most prevalent problems in the life of the common movie-goer. From stress and anxiety to family planning, The Movie Doctors have the cures – and the films – to make you feel better.
The night was founded almost entirely on audience participation, with a number of increasingly embarrassed patrons being called up to the stage in the Doctors’ Accident and Emergency segments, in which they addressed immediate problems through one-to-one appointments. One lady – who was struggling with a cough – was given the chance to embrace her inner monster and give her best Godzilla roar, in what is surely the only way to combat a chesty problem. Hearing this small and somewhat timid-looking lady angrily roar on the stage (and alongside the visual of the actual gargantuan movie monster, I might add) was hilarious, and proved to be one of the most entertaining highlights of the evening.
Other Nuffield crowd-specific ailments that the Doctors’ treated included one man’s ‘Kevinsomnia’ (the inability to stay awake during Kevin Costner movies) and a bored council worker’s need for an adrenaline kick (a car chase from The Bourne Supremacy seemed to do the trick). Kermode and Mayo also offered a masterclass on how to treat (or in some cases, really really agitate) common phobias through film, with the biggest and most Movie Doctors-approved fear being Coulrophobia – otherwise known as the fear of clowns. It was in this segment that we were all painfully reminded of how god fucking awful clowns are, via a scene from Stephen King’s It.
As well as terrifying some of the theatre’s patrons (mainly me) with certain movie clips, the Doctors’ also provided us all with some much-needed laughter – and not just through their personable camaraderie, but additionally through a series of film clips, highlighting some of the funniest scenes in cinema history. The night also provided movie fans with a number of brilliant film suggestions to cure or aid some of life’s direst troubles; Stressed or anxious? The Doctors’ prescribe The Big Leboswki. Want something to watch with kids? Mary Poppins. Want a film that will put you off having kids altogether? The Exorcist or Village of the Damned will set you right.
Ultimately, Kermode and Mayo proved to be entertaining and generous hosts for the evening, providing everything from amusing cinematic anecdotes to all-out bickering. As Kermode noted in the show, more often than not, a good review is the worst thing a film-maker can achieve because of what it leads to afterwards – with his example being John Boorman’s incredulous post-acclaim film, Zardoz. So here’s hoping that despite this positive review, the two travelling film critics go on to bigger, better, non-Zardoz like heights, as their tour continues.
The final leg of The Movie Doctors tour will take place at the BFI Southbank in London on Sunday 13th December. Kermode and Mayo’s accompanying book, The Movie Doctors, is also available to buy from all good bookstores.