The Time Machine

The future is brought to you from the past in this musical adaptation of H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine as producer Miss Carrie and her mysterious singing guest record a radio broadcast in the 1950s, retelling the time-travellers’story. The material of Wells’ novel is lovingly converted and spookily scored into musical form and the story fits snugly into the hour time slot without feeling truncated or rushed, even leaving enough room to build up the world of 1950s Woking and develop the relationship between the characters in this two-hander show. It’s a classic story; an inventor ahead of his time (metaphorically and literally) defies the disbelief of his peers to experience the future world where mankind has divided into a flower-picking Eloi and their subterranean brethren, the Morlocks, who prey on them. It’s well told, with large chunks of narration lifted from the text breaking up the songs, and goes down as smoothly as a glass of whiskey enjoyed in an old armchair by the fire.

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. 

Reviews by Millie Foy

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

HG Wells's sci-fi masterpiece is reborn as a brand new musical adventure. Original songs, a rip-roaring score, and live sound effects from 800,000 years in the future! Written and performed by film composer Laurence Owen and comedian Lindsay Sharman. In association with Seabright Productions. Malcolm Hardee Award winner 2015. ‘A tour-de-force’ **** (Skinny). ‘Brilliantly written and remarkably scored’ **** (BroadwayBaby.com). ‘Ridiculously clever... Not many performers take your breath away with their talent. Laurence Owen does’ **** (Scotsman).