The Time Machine

Many will be familiar with the big budget movies inspired by the works of HG Wells (The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man) for example, but fewer might have actually read the Victorian morality tales that inspired them. Jones’ new adaptation of The Time Machine is clearly directly inspired by the original novella. As such, the performance met, but did not massively exceed, my expectations of what a professional one-man theatre piece should be.

If you’re looking for a well-executed family-friendly one-man show that will tell a good story and keep you interested, The Time Machine will not disappoint.

Featuring actor Stephen Cunningham and a minimalist set, this show from Dyad Productions relied on Cunningham’s voice, a complex soundscape and lighting design to transport us to the incredible landscapes of the future. Although this mirrors the narrative structure of the original novella, Jones’ (who also directs) minimalist intent did not always succeed in thoroughly transporting us.

Cunningham is a commanding performer and did far better than many would in keeping an audience engaged for a full 90 minutes in what is a complex, wordy story. His performance did at times feel a little one-noted but the energy he maintained still meant he kept us interested. He was certainly better in moments of reflection and self-discovery than in moments where he acted out interaction with the curious inhabitants of the future which were treated as awkward mimes that clearly did not come naturally to Cunningham.

Despite his stage presence, at times the show still felt like it was lacking something else. The mostly bare stage in the large theatre space felt a little cheap rather than aesthetic. Danny Bright’s sound design sometimes felt a little hammy and Martin Tucker’s lighting design, while competent, did not utilise the stage space as well as it could. The single block in the centre of the stage was well-used but the choice of a few props felt odd to me as they did not fit with the minimalist aesthetic of the show and sat, distracting and unused, on one side of the stage for most of the show.

Ultimately if you’re looking for a well-executed family-friendly one-man show that will tell a good story and keep you interested, The Time Machine will not disappoint. However this production is not groundbreaking theatre and it certainly will not blow you away. 

Reviews by Elliot Douglas


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The Blurb

In this age of uncertainty, where shadows of tyranny, intolerance and war darken human progress, how much time do we have left? If civilisation fell today, what would become of us? In Rebecca Vaughan and Elton Townend Jones's reinvention of the HG Wells classic, a Victorian explorer travels through time into tomorrow, discovering the fate of our endeavours, uncovering our darkest fears. From the fall of man to the end of the world, this is the story of us all. Previous works: Austen's Women, I, Elizabeth, The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe, Female Gothic, Dalloway, Jane Eyre.