Fringe Box



Stage Dragon: The Time Machine, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 6 Mar, 2024
Updated on: 7 Mar, 2024

By Ferenc Hepp

The Time Machine, at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre this week, is a play based on the post-apocalyptic science fiction novella by H G Wells.

It could have been an interesting concept but ultimately falls short in execution.

The Time Machine by the Original Theatre Company.

Produced by Original Theatre Company as part of a national tour, the production attempts to blend elements of comedy and surrealism with the classic tale of time travel but struggles to find its objective in many ways.

The premise starts off intriguingly, reminiscent of the humour found in productions such as The Play That Goes Wrong with deliberate technical issues.

The concept revolves around three actors preparing to tour The Importance of Being Earnest, only to change plans to presenting The Time Machine when one of the cast members, George, reveals himself to be the great-great-grandson of H G Wells.

The decision to present the events as verbatim theatre adds an interesting layer, but from there, the narrative spirals into chaos.

The Time Machine, written by Steven Canny.

As the time machine transports the characters through various time periods, we are introduced to a disjointed array of characters, including Zsa Zsa Gabor, Queen Victoria, Pat from EastEnders, and even a cardboard cutout of Brian Cox.

However, these encounters lack coherence, unfolding in a seemingly random and illogical manner that fails to engage or entertain.

Following a rather dramatic end to Act One, the second act attempts to address the consequences of altering past events, but this too is marred by confusion and lack of direction.

The Time Machine cast: Amy Revelle, Michael Dylan and George Kemp.

The energy of the actors is apparent, with George Kemp serving as the anchor amidst the pandemonium, Amy Revelle adding an over-the-top neurotic flair, and Michael Dylan as the comic victim.

However, their efforts are undermined by a script that struggles to find cohesion and fails to deliver.

Dylan is the most versatile of the three and I would like to see him in a comic role, but in a different show.

The set, primarily consisting of an unfinished facade of a Greek temple, adds little to the production, serving as a visual reminder of the play’s disjointed nature.

The Time Machine directed by Orla O’Loughlin.

Some audience participation attempts to inject life into the proceedings, but ultimately feels forced and not really connected to the narrative.

The humour and the laughs from a minority of the audience come from the cast’s funny voices and impressions, as opposed to intelligent humour and wit. 

Director Orla O’Loughlin’s intention was to create a production that “laughs in the face of despair and insists on shining light in gloomy times”.

However, unfortunately, the result is more despair than laughter, and as per one of the lines in the script: “two hours of utter nonsense”.

The Time Machine runs until Saturday, March 9, and tickets are available via or 01483 440000.

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Responses to Stage Dragon: The Time Machine, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    March 7, 2024 at 10:06 pm

    Two stars? That’s harsh, 3.3 stars, in my view.

    We arrived to find the male understudy for the girl, was in place. He was a good fit.

    Madness anarchic crazy, entertaining helped by the teachers and three coach loads of Year 8 girls from the Holt school, Wokingham.

    If you went with the flow, a very entertaining evening of craziness.

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