As many performance art companies are adapting to the restrictions of lockdown with live-streamed and pre-recorded entertainment, Creation Theatre has “boldly gone where no man has gone before” with their new immersive Zoom piece, loosely based on H G Wells’ famed science fiction story ‘The Time Machine’, written by Jonathan Holloway and directed by Natasha Rickman.
Originally performed within The London Library back in February, this show, despite its enthusiasm, was subject to the technical limitations of its new chosen medium, with occasional visual and audio glitches, often likening the characters to holograms which in some way was rather apt. The actors interchanging as the lead, The Time Traveller, in different timelines created a very dynamic repartee. Each performer really made an effort with audience participation which lifted the piece from its two-dimensional canvas into the “fourth dimensional space”.
Though somewhat lacking in the presence of H G Wells’ original parables of social classes in the form of races, The Eoli and Morlocks (the Morlocks only appeared in this adaptation when The Traveller and his trusty Computer needed to be chased into a different time frame - somewhat puzzling for a troglodyte species The Traveller discovered in the original story in 802,701 AD - a time period this particular story does not venture to), elements of the story were heavily charged with predictive research, compiled back in October 2019 by The Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities, with whom Creation collaborated on this piece. These (rather sensitive) themes included the possibility of viral pandemics wiping out the majority of earth’s population and other science fiction tropes such as AI implants, physiological and physical modification of the human body for warfare, the manipulation of genomes and the increasing destruction of the planet - ideas presented to us by a scientist in 2300 humming Cole Porter’s ‘Anything Goes’. Indeed, it seems anything does go in this ‘Multiverse’.
Seeing as Wells’ story coined the term ‘Time Machine’, I was expecting a machine of sorts, however, here it was attributed to a small briefcase, which actually lent itself more to the character’s ability to ‘time warp’ with such ease without jumping into an “overblown 1960’s sun lounger” (in reference to the 1960’s film adaptation by George Pal). Though it is not recommended for under 12’s, moments of the show felt a little like Horrible Histories, as we were taken to seemingly random time periods in which great advances were made in quantum theory, physics and time travel, with the occasional opportunity to dress up and have a boogie in ‘Gallery View’ to Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’. A strong message of ethical morality and immortality ran throughout while fast tracking the audience through an encyclopaedia of Science and Sci-Fi trivia, culminating in The Time Traveller’s message to “Choose Joy”.
I do wonder if I might have stepped into a ‘Spare Oom’ and fell into another reality altogether… a word of advice, before entering this time warp, take a gander over H G Wells’ original story for some context and possibly a sonic screwdriver if you’re so inclined.