You think you know H G Wells’ classic The Time Machine? You might well do, actually, but the characters in Original Theatre’s side-splitting production, aptly named The Time Machine – A Comedy, might not know it quite as well, and their attempt to turn the novel into a play doesn’t exactly go according to plan.
The premise of The Time Machine (this version, at least) is that Dave Wells (Dave Hearn), the great great grandson of H G Wells himself, finds a box of his famous relative’s belongings, including the original draft of The Time Machine and decides that he and his theatre company should make that their next production, abandoning (almost – it does make a rather impressive reappearance) their production of The Importance of Being Earnest in the meantime.
Things do not go well. That’s partly due to Dave being unable to write a play if his life depended on it, but also because it turns out his great great grandfather really could travel through time, which Dave works out how to do too. And so, the stage is set…
It would be hard to say much more about the story without giving it all away, and that would ruin the many laugh out loud surprises, not to mention the head-scratching science, which is explained in a rather helpful way by, amongst other people, Harry and Meghan, along with Frank and Pat Butcher. Oh, and there’s Cher who has an unfortunate moment with her wig. Hearn as Dave is ably supported by Michael Dylan as Michael and Amy Revelle as Amy. Dave’s the bossy one who knows it all (or so he thinks), Michael’s the clever one who never gets a word in edgeways, and Amy is the one who’s exasperated by the others.
Written by Steven Canny and John Nicholson and directed by Orla O’Loughlin, The Time Machine – A Comedy is a weird and wonderful story that seems simple on the outside but has a lot of layers (each one just as funny as the last) that slowly but surely get peeled away. Just wait for the audience participation in the second act, when everything becomes rather panto-esque and the team’s improv skills come out to play! None of this play really makes sense, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s two hours of pure nonsense and humour (although there are a couple of moments of surprising pathos, in particular Michael’s soliloquy from Hamlet/Withnail and I).
It all blends together perfectly, with plenty of energy, some hilarious Goes Wrong-style problems (lines out of sync and sound effects not coming in when they’re meant to, for example), and a finale that is bizarre and wonderful, yet perfectly in keeping with everything that’s just gone before. And where else are you going to find a mashup of B*Witched’s ‘C’est La Vie’ and The Importance of Being Earnest? Believe us, it’s something you really need to experience.
If you’re looking for an evening of pure silliness that sends you out into the night with a smile on your face, The Time Machine A Comedy fits the bill.
Written by: Steven Canny and John Nicholson
Directed by: Orla O’Loughlin
Produced by: Original Theatre
The Time Machine – A Comedy plays at Park Theatre until 30 December. Further information and bookings can be found here.