Tag Archives: Dave Hearn

The Time Machine – A Comedy


Park Theatre

THE TIME MACHINE – A COMEDY at the Park Theatre


“There is a playfulness that fits the season perfectly. Like a Christmas jumper. It is great fun, but any other time of the year you could never get away with it.”

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Time for normal rules to be put on the back burner. Sparkly and ridiculous clothes are worn without embarrassment or comment, and behavioural patterns stray from the straight and narrow. Usually induced by festive merriment and alcohol, social barriers are pulled down and liaisons instigated (a polite euphemism) that would normally be questionable. It is the time that, in the grey, sober light of a January, many of us will look back on with a touch of regret.

Suffice to say, Dave Hearn, Amy Revelle and Michael Dylan, who comprise ‘Original Theatre’, will look back with befuddled amazement at their antics at the Park Theatre. But there will be no regret whatsoever, such will be the triumphant success of their seasonal yet anarchic take on H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine”. I say success maybe prematurely – time will tell – but if there’s any justice in the world, my prediction will be right.

It is also timely. ‘Time’ is a trending topic at this moment in time. With Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary occupying our screens and far too many column inches in our media. And with ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ soaring into the West End. Time travel has always fascinated us – it is a weighty issue that is usually treated with reverence and intellectual respect. ‘Original Theatre’ are having none of that. Apart from making it one of the most hilarious explorations of the theory, they also bring it riotously into the realms of reality. Almost.

“The trio take us on a delightful tour in H. G. Wells’ time machine, taking liberties with wild abandon and fuelled by reckless and irreverent gags”

Dave Hearn has adopted the surname Wells, claiming to be the great great grandson of the prolific writer and social critic Herbert George Wells. He has taken it upon himself to convince us that his great great grandfather’s novel was, in fact, science fact rather than fiction. After all, he found the original, ink-stained manuscript in his aunt’s attic to prove it. What ensues is a high energy romp through plays within plays within plays (that inevitably go wrong), with much emphasis on the three main paradoxes that render time travel theoretically illogical. The tone is set from the outset. It is bold and heightened, which is a good thing as it needs the chutzpah to overcome a few clichés before it gets into its stride. The pseudo under rehearsed conceit is over-egged, while the dramatic interruptions veer close to predictability. Sometimes the subject matter is at odds with the delivery, but once the concept is fully established, the chaotic, over-the-top humour falls into place. The trio take us on a delightful tour in H. G. Wells’ time machine, taking liberties with wild abandon and fuelled by reckless and irreverent gags.

In the second act, the plot appears to be irrevocably lost, but by now we are absorbed in the personalities and the human touch. A subliminal message of friendship, loyalty and hope is glimpsed somewhere beneath the mayhem, melodrama and histrionics. Writers Steven Canny and John Nicholson have cleverly pulled the characters out of the story and seemingly left them high and dry. It is shrewdly scripted but the performances convince us of the disarray. The audience are invited to help save the show – and perhaps save a life. It could all go horribly wrong, but Orla O’Loughlin’s sprightly direction inspires reassurance, mixed with some Hitchcockian suspense and Buster Keaton style daring – courtesy too of Fred Meller’s set design.

Hearn, Revelle and Dylan have a natural ability to connect with an audience. Yes, the big questions are either glossed over or pebble-dashed into puzzlement, but such concerns are drowned out by the laughs. There is a playfulness that fits the season perfectly. Like a Christmas jumper. It is great fun, but any other time of the year you could never get away with it.

THE TIME MACHINE – A COMEDY at the Park Theatre

Reviewed on 5th December 2023

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Manuel Harlan


Reviewed this year at the Park Theatre:

Ikaria | ★★★★ | November 2023
Passing | ★★★½ | November 2023
The Interview | ★★★ | November 2023
It’s Headed Straight Towards Us | ★★★★★ | September 2023
Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea | ★★½ | September 2023
The Garden Of Words | ★★★ | August 2023
Bones | ★★★★ | July 2023
Paper Cut | ★★½ | June 2023
Leaves of Glass | ★★★★ | May 2023
The Beach House | ★★★ | February 2023
Winner’s Curse | ★★★★ | February 2023
The Elephant Song | ★★★★ | January 2023

The Time Machine

The Time Machine

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Starship Improvise

Starship Improvise


Edinburgh Festival Fringe

STARSHIP IMPROVISE at Edinburgh Festival Fringe



Starship Improvise


“the plots take just enough unexpected leaps into comic hyperspace that the show is never dull”


Starship Improvise is the perfect piece for fans of classic sci-fi franchises like Star Trek, and the fan conventions that sprang up in their wake. As we all remember, Galaxy Quest was the movie that made fun of both. Starship Improvise will remind audiences of Galaxy Quest, with the add-ed attraction of a show that allows plenty of room for the cast to improvise around the chosen themes for the evening. Judging by the line that waited on the afternoon I was there, actors from the Mischief, Austentatious and Showstopper! companies have found another winner to present as part of their comedy franchise at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. What’s cool about Starship Improvise is that you can just see one show, or you can keep showing up for them all. There’ll be a different episode to improv every time, and a changing cast as well.

The set up in Starship Improvise is as follows: the actors of the popular sci-fi series of Celestia Seven are attending a fan convention. The cast file on stage, talk a bit about the series, what it means to them, and what was really going on behind the scenes. They decide they are going to select a favourite episode, and replay it for the fans. On this particular day, the chosen Celestia Seven episode is all about the Captain’s Birthday. The opening location is the Engine Room, and the emotional theme is Joy. With the parameters set for the improvisations, the cast gets to work. The members of the crew are an obvious mash up of various incarnations of Star Trek, with the tough but emotionally vulnerable captain, the overly logical ship’s surgeon whom she has recently broken up with; the ship’s empath, and of course, the resident alien, who runs around trying to understand humans. In place of the Spock character from Star Trek, however, we have Lab Rador from Canis Major in Celestia Seven.

As the improv gets going, there are lots of opportunities for Starship Improvise to make fun of everything from toxic masculinity to vegetable metaphors. Hmm. Not everything has to make sense, and the audience gets a huge amount of enjoyment from watching the actors miss their cues, mess up their motivations, or just run into a problematic plot line that they can’t get out of. There are moments when we see the tensions between cast members in Celestia Seven spill out into Starship Improvise. It’s all part of the fun, but it’s tough on Method Actors, for some reason.

Co-creator Adam Megiddo (who also plays Lab Rador), and fellow actors Dave Hearn, Ruth Bratt, Charlotte Gittins, Henry Lewis and Henry Shields wing it for every show. They have a list of characters and their various (complicated) relationships both on and off the stage in their heads, and they take it from there. They obviously relish the “act by the seat of your pants” set up in Starship Improvise. And with reason. They have a bunch of devoted fans in the audience who are quite happy to watch anything they do.

Starship Improvise is an easy and entertaining way to spend an hour at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s true that it does rely a little too much on familiar memes and themes. But the plots take just enough unexpected leaps into comic hyperspace that the show is never dull. Sometimes it’s good to just settle back in one’s seat, and enjoy the fun.


Reviewed 7th August 2022

by Dominica Plummer


Photography by Andrew Pugsley


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