Theatre Review - The Time Machine

Dave Hearn and Amy Revelle in The Time Machine [Manuel Harlan]

THIS madcap, irreverent take on HG Wells’ novel has many laugh-out-loud moments but occasionally lacks focus. For some, the style of comedy will seem familiar. This includes deliberately hammy acting, late entrances, lines outs of sync, misfiring props, hasty costume changes and plenty of slapstick.

No wonder: John Nicholson, co-writer of The Time Machine with Steven Canny, is artistic director of the award-winning company Peepolykus, while performer Dave Hearn is a founding member of Mischief Theatre.

Dave (Hearn), Amy (Amy Revelle) and Michael (Michael Dylan) are rehearsing Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest when Dave decides they are going to stage his adaptation of HG Wells’ sci-fi classic – he claims to be descended from the prolific writer and has a box of artefacts to prove it. But can Dave persuade the others to stick to his script?

In the rehearsal room, Amy wants to ensure she gets to show off her skills as a singer while Michael is intent on explaining the space time paradox.

As they hash their way through a performance, Dave just wants to get through to the end, but the play gets stuck on endless repeat and we can’t get past Amy fatally stabbing Michael (while playing a Morlock).

In the second half the show picks up pace, as well as straying irreversibly off course, when the actors enlist the help of several audience members who gamely step up to help save Michael.

Although the play-within-a-play is a slightly tired device and the skits don’t always land, there’s palpable joy in the silliness and anarchy.

Orla O’Loughlin directs with a light touch, the imaginative trio display real warmth and there are flashes of brilliance in the staging.

Until December 30

Originally published by Islington Tribune