Tag Archives: John Nicholson

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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Royal and Derngate Theatre

PLAYTIME at the Royal and Derngate Theatre




“delightful entertainment of gentle comedy”


Dancing Brick presents a stage adaptation of the legendary film by Jacques Tati. An unlikely undertaking at first thought with the film’s notoriety for excessive detail, a myriad of characters, and almost no plot nor dialogue. And yet Co-Directors Valentina Ceschi and Thomas Eccleshare, with a cast of five (including Ceschi who doubles as an actor too), have created an evening’s triumph of mime and movement.

There is little plot – various people arrive in Paris at the airport, visit the Pour la Maison Paris Expo, stay in a hotel and go to a restaurant before returning to the airport. And there is little spoken dialogue – only occasional words are heard, some in French, some in English.

To start things off, Tati’s great comedic invention, Monsieur Hulot (Enoch Lwanga) enters through the audience. Dressed in his recognisable raincoat and hat, carrying an umbrella (Set & Costume Designer Michael Vale), Lwanga’s languid movements and sad reflective expression set the mood. He gamely blows up a balloon and then lets it down again.

Hulot enters the opening scene in the arrivals lounge (“Arrivee”) of a French airport. Dozens of characters come and go, arriving and departing via an escalator, criss-crossing the stage – a different hat, jacket, suitcase signifying a change in character. There are two nuns, two opposing volleyball teams, holiday makers, a beat combo, paparazzi… It is difficult to believe that this is a cast of just five actors and we shall see many of these characters again before the end of the evening. The humour within the scene is gentle rather than pratfall slapstick and the cast show off their consistently excellent mime skills. Their movement is accompanied by a background of foyer muzak, setting a light comedic tone, and a rhythm for the antics to follow.

One character stands out ahead of the crowd. Barbara (Yuyu Rau) catches the eye of Monsieur Hulot and there begins a burgeoning romance. Together they share a beautiful fantasy dance scene seemingly, and surreally, outside of their adjacent hotel rooms.

The highlight of the evening is an extended scene set in a newly opening restaurant. With non-stop action, the ensemble’s comic timing is impeccable. Characters come and go, a few running gags are followed – a missing cat, a fracas about balloons, an increasingly drunk waiter – the mayhem occasionally breaking out into quirky dance routines. Central to the activity and holding the scene together is the Maitre D’ (Abigail Dooley) who is excellently portrayed with superb characterization.

Two songs are introduced. The first by Chilly Gonzales & Pierre Grillet is beautifully sung live by Valentina Ceschi. The second by Martha Wainwright accompanies the final scene between Hulot and Barbara as they spend time in the park. The atmosphere for the first time is less zany than what has gone before, more melancholic. We realise that Barbara will soon leave and Hulot – the gentle clown – will once again be alone.

As the actors take their well-earned bows, they are joined in a curtain call by the stage management team who undoubtedly have done their bit in the wings to make happen the huge number of costume and prop changes.

Dancing Brick have created a delightful entertainment of gentle comedy maintained by the skill and indefatigable energy of this small ensemble.



Reviewed on 7th September 2022

by Phillip Money

Photography by Manuel Harlan


Previously reviewed at this venue:


Animal Farm | ★★★★ | May 2021
Gin Craze | ★★★★ | July 2021
Blue / Orange | ★★★★ | November 2021
The Wellspring | ★★★ | March 2022



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