Dyad Productions’ The Time Machine ‘deserves five star reviews’ at Edinburgh Fringe

PUBLISHED: 14:40 02 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:52 02 August 2017

The Time Machine [Picture: Ben Guest Photographer; Dyad Productions]

The Time Machine [Picture: Ben Guest Photographer; Dyad Productions]

Ben Guest Photographer 2017

Ahead of opening at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Matt Adams reviews Dyad Productions’ The Time Machine at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans.

The accumulated sum of centuries of knowledge lies mouldering away in the depths of a ruined museum, the broken remnants of civilisation are engulfed in vines and weeds, and the inheritors of mankind’s genetic legacy are little more than primeval savages.

Welcome to the year 802,701, the destination for an unnamed Victorian time traveller who has transcended the fourth dimension, and embarked on a journey of discovery into Earth’s far-flung future in Dyad Productions’ re-invention of HG Wells’ The Time Machine.

In a crumbling London the traveller discovers two distinct races of post-humans, the peaceful yet ineffectual Eloi, and the subterranean simian Morlocks.

Marooned following the theft of his time machine, he plunders the surviving artefacts of this ravaged city, forges a bond with the Eloi girl Weena, and eventually discovers the dark secret behind these post-apocalyptic creatures...

Written and directed by St Albans’ own Elton Townend Jones (and produced by long-time collaborator Rebecca Vaughan), using HG Wells’ original novella as a springboard rather than offering an exact adaptation, this is science fiction as it was originally intended – using the fantastical to pass commentary on the mundane, in this case how the innui, selfishness and apathy of modern society could lead to the decline of our civilisation.

Spend our lives fixated on iPhones and we will allow corruption and decadence to go unchallenged, until at last something will happen which we cannot pull back from, and the world will fall apart around us.

The nature of this apocalypse is kept deliberately vague here, but it is the aftermath of this event which the play is more concerned about.

Take away technology, agriculture, literature and all of the other trappings of “civilisation” and what do you have left?

And how will the planet’s survivors adapt in the wake of a cataclysmic shift in the status quo?

The same themes prevalent in Wells’ novella are as relevant today as they were in the 19th century, albeit given the benefit of more than a 100 years of accumulated knowledge about social development.

Less of a Time Lord and more of a time tourist, the unnamed narrator is played with conviction and verve by Stephen Cunningham, whose remarkable performance drives the entire production.

He delivers Townend Jones’ lines as if he has lived every scene, supported by imaginative yet understated sound and lighting from Danny Bright and Martin Tucker.

A thought-provoking and challenging production which thrives through its perfect synergy of script and star, and deserves five star reviews when it heads to Edinburgh this month.

• Written and directed by Elton Townend Jones and produced by Rebecca Vaughan, The Time Machine can be seen at the Assembly Roxy Upstairs from August 3 to August 28.

For tickets, visit https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/time-machine

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