The Time Machine, Theatre Royal, Bath Review

Hold onto your hats – this is a rollercoaster ride through time and space courtesy of the famous story The Time Machine by H G Wells and its protagonists the award-winning Original Theatre Company. With the adaptation written by Steven Canny and John Nicholson the fun is fast and furious; there are Cher songs (would H G Wells have approved of this?) topical jokes and a minimal adherence to the storyline of the book. In the capable hands of Dave Hearn, a founding member of the Mischief Theatre, Michael Dylan and Amy Revelle the show hurtles along chaotically dragging the audience with it always slightly one step behind.

Dave Hearn in the central role is just the ticket bringing all his play-that-goes-wrong experience to bear; essentially he is the head of the trio of actors who are staging a version of The Time Machine – he is claiming to be the great-great-grandson of H G Wells; Amy Revelle is the actress (sorry, actor, as she would have it) ever minded to increase the number of Cher songs in the play that for the moment stand at none. Michael Dylan’s lovely bit of Irish brogue adds to the appeal of his role as the downtrodden factotum and general performer who nevertheless goes onto to have a pivotal role.

The first act is steeped in the Victorian era of the book, Amy Revelle costumed for the time perched upon the chaise longue as the fiancée of the time traveller, together with Michael Dylan as the time traveller’s sardonic and questioning friend. After the appearance of Dave Hearn as Bertie (the time traveller) there is a descent into anarchy and it takes good attention to keep up – has he really gone forward forty years only to find his fiancée married to his best friend, and then encountered Weena and The Morlock? Who knows but it made us laugh a great deal.

The second half is all about audience participation and the three actors show off their consummate skills in persuasion and crowd control. The story runs wild, out of control, crackpot scientific theories, mad ramblings, and plot diversions abound; nothing matters as long as it’s funny – and it is. We loved the crazy ‘The Importance of Being Earnest Handbag hip hop dance mash-up’ which was an inspired piece of comedy business.

The lighting and sound are terrific with electric flashings and thunderous booms to help with the drama but mostly the success rests on the strong shoulders of the three excellent actors, Dave Hearn, Michael Dylan and Amy Revelle whose boundless energy, faultless timing and enthusiasm make this a pleasure to see, and we loved it.

Jacquie Vowles

24 – 29 April, Theatre Royal Bath, Sawclose, Bath BA1 1ET


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