5-star The Time Machine at the Old Red Lion Theatre

Nunkie Time Machine Illustration by Paul Lowe
Nunkie Time Machine Illustration by Paul Lowe

Be honest, how many of you out there would love to have a genuine time machine? As a dedicated Whovian, I can’t tell you how often the word TARDIS has appeared on my Christmas list. However, have you thought about the consequences of being able to travel forwards and backwards along the space-time continuum? Well, back in 1894 H G Wells did think about this and the result of his musings can be seen at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington where Nunkie Theatre Company is presenting The Time Machine.

It is 1895 and in amongst the normal flora that one would find lying in a suburban garden in the borough of Richmond-upon-Thames there is an unexpected item. A large wooden box, not entirely dissimilar to a coffin in shape is lying on its side on the lawn. Suddenly the box opens and out falls a disheveled man (Robert Lloyd Parry) who collapses by the side of the box. Slowly, he comes back to life and, after assuaging his thirst he sees the watchers and tells his incredible story of his trip to the future and the wonders he saw there.

I’m sure many of you reading this will have seen the 1960 film The Time Machine starring the debonair Rod Taylor and a host of very pretty people who he saves from evil. Thankfully, this production of The Time Machine is nothing like that. Instead, we have the wonderful Robert Lloyd Parry looking like he has been dragged through a hedge backwards, then forward then backwards again for luck. His hair and beard are, putting it politely unkempt, his Victorian undergarments will take more than a proprietary brand of washing powder and bleach to make them white again. Even his socks are grubby with holes at the front. All in all Robert’s Time Traveler would make Worzel Gummidge look presentable. Along with the appearance, Robert delivers a blistering one-man performance telling the story of his adventure. At times gentle and contemplative at others manically shouting he grabs his audience by the throat and doesn’t let go for a moment. There is such a level of commitment in the performance that, along with the wonderful and very versatile Time Machine – designed and built by Factory Settings Ltd – it was easy to believe we were sitting in a garden listening to this fascinating tale. The story itself is ingenious and H G Wells really let the creative juices flow when he came up with not only his rather depressing vision of the future but the means in which his traveller gets there. The story, coupled with Robert’s total commitment to the performance were a splendid combination and, along with the excellent lighting and background sounds, the whole thing was a real pleasure from start to finish.

To sum up, The Time Machine was a truly wonderful one-man show that proved once again how little in the way of props and scenery is required to make a compelling piece of theatre. It is on a very limited run at the Old Red Lion Theatre so I would recommend getting your booking in now before it finishes or you will kick yourself for missing such a great show. Of course, if you do happen to have a TARDIS or similar, then give me a lift back to last night so I can see it again.

5 Stars

Review by Terry Eastham

I have lived such days as no man has lived before…
1895. In a suburban garden, beneath a waning moon, a man lies beside a remarkable machine. He has a story to tell. A story of darkness and light. Of fire and fear. Of Eloi and Morlocks. An unbelievable story about our future that he insists is true… Is it a joke? A prophecy? A dream?

The Time Machine
4th – 9th October 2016

Tuesday – Saturday 7.30pm
Saturday & Sunday matinees 2.30pm

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