ReviewSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: The Time Machine: The Rotunda Theatre – Bubble

Reviewer: Lela Tredwell

By: The Keeper’s Daughter
Adapted & Directed by: Mark Finbow
Reviewer: Lela Tredwell

Re-envisioning H.G. Wells’ classic, this stimulating performance brings The Time Machine to the stage with an electronic soundscape, emotive puppetry and an hypnotic light show.

Although its source material was written at the end of the 19th Century, this show ensures it is anything but stuck in the past. The effective narrative structure allows for further commentary on the times in which we now live through a beautifully eccentric addressing of the audience.

The time-traveller is grounded with us in 2022 while he awaits the recharging of his machine. With time on his hands, if not yet at his disposal, he is moved to regale us with a tale from his recent visit to the distant future.

There’s something for a wide range of ages in this inspiring performance, with visually stimulating sequences of physical theatre, along with fascinating storytelling. This is an hypnotic ride with a pleasing pace so we are given time to enjoy the view.

Mesmerising puppet work is used to bring to life the gentle Eloi. Dancing coloured lights excite the eyes, while spoken descriptions powerfully evoke the imagination.

This is truly an innovative piece of theatre with the action all taking place on the impressive contraption as if our time travelling guide can’t bear to be even a few inches apart from his invention. This instinct makes sense as the storytelling progresses. It also is to our benefit, as the resourceful ways the time machine is used are the origin of much delight.

Bringing a great deal of character to this show is a thoroughly charming performance from Mark Finbow as our 19th Century inventor. His entertaining interaction with the audience keeps everyone engaged. Even young members of the audience are attentive throughout, exciting in identifying the threat of menacing red eyes whenever they appear. Finbow responds to the interjections with good humour and encouragement. His gentle teasing of his wider audience is witty and thought-provoking.

H.G. Wells’ original social commentary on the imagined degeneration of humanity into the species of the childish fragile Eloi and the subterranean predatory Morlocks, is drawn on playfully as the audience is aligned with the Eloi. Finbow’s distorted observations of his voyeurs really help to create this distinction, encouraging us to see ourselves afresh.

A stimulating electronic soundtrack accompanies the action which includes some wonderful slow motion sequences. There is also an especially poignant moment in the show in which our main character takes shelter in an archive where he discovers sound bites recorded during a time not so distant from our own.

A voice from the annals says the future will either be Blade Runner or Jumanji. We must hope it is not the one H.G. Wells’ imagined in The Time Machine. Although this performance of it in your future is very worthy of writing into your destiny.

Reviewed on 5th June

The Reviews Hub Score

Sensationally stimulating

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