The future is brought to you from the past in this musical adaptation of H. G. Wells’
It’s worth seeing just to watch Sharman noisily inhale an apple
Sung and narrated by the shows composer Laurence Owen the overall impact of the show is, as a result, entirely contingent on the pace and energy of his performance. Though Owen gave a polished performance, with pleasing 50s cable-knit charm and succeeded in satisfying our ears with his rich tones and amusing character voices, our eyes were left somewhat wanting as his sometimes noncommittal physicality prevented him from being a truly magnetic presence on stage. Somewhat perversely, the problem arose from the radio show format being too successful; it raised the pressing and unresolved question of why this was performed as a theatre piece at all and not a radio play. I couldn’t shake off the feeling as I left that I might have preferred the show had I been listening to it on Radio 4 as I did the washing up.
Lindsay Sharman played the role of the show’s producer, seated to one side making the sound effects for Owen’s reading. Like the apple she demolished into her microphone as though a hungry horse, all in the name of authentic sound effects, Lindsay Sharman’s performance was crisp and provided a juicy tang whenever she popped up from her producer’s desk. Her Foley artistry often stole the show and won big laughs, whilst the lyrics, charming and witty though they were, were not always met with such appreciation. This being said, there were warm smiles could be seen throughout and the bar at the back was much appreciated.
The show was at its strongest when it gave into absurdity and whimsy (the song about crabs was a highlight) and it’s worth seeing just to watch Sharman noisily inhale an apple, but I couldn’t help wishing I’d finished off the washing-up as well by the time it was done.