Thursday, 12 March 2020

THEATRE REVIEW: The Time Machine - London Library, London.

The Time Machine adapted by Johnathan Holloway is currently being performed at The London Library. A fabulous building set in the heart of St James's Square in London. You must understand that this place is completely different from the British Library where entrance is open to anyone. The London Library is an exclusive ‘club’ of famous authors and writers, completely independent and founded in 1841. HG Wells, his wife and friends were linked to the library as patrons for many years. So it seems an ideal place to host HG Wells’ The Time Machine.

The journeys depart at 15 minute intervals throughout the evening and last for about ninety minutes. It is for small groups who cleverly never meet. For my show at 8pm twenty of us entered the portal and were met by a life sized gentleman on a pixelated screen. He told us that we would be going on a journey and that time travel alters people’s appearances, shapes and colour of their socks. Then, suddenly from behind us, out of a suitcase appeared our personal time traveller guide who would take us on our journey. We all jumped with shock and she was very insistent that we stick to the walls at all times. We would need to keep an eye out for Murlocks who would pursue us through time.

Don’t come on this experience if you don’t like joining in. It’s a clever experience and nothing like I imagined beforehand. Many of us are drawn into the show by various interactive activities or through verbal encounters. I can tell you about it in minute detail but then that would ruin the whole experience for anyone who would like to time travel themselves. If addressed by the time traveller we had acquired different names because she thought she had met us before in a previous encounter when we were known by that name which became very amusing as we progressed through time. As we know there have been so many time travel stories in books, comics, films and TV shows so it is not a difficult concept to imagine in this day and age, no matter how incomprehensible the possibility.

So how did we time travel in the London Library? Well we used a gentleman’s briefcase/travelling bag and some chalk. None of this new fangled digital dates for our group. However, it is illegal for anyone to time travel and we have to endeavour not to be caught. At one point I was tasked to carry the time machine safely on to our next destination. We had to keep that bag/machine with us at all times, never letting it out of our sight.

We travelled on our journey from room to room, through a maze of doorways and stairs to arrive at our final destination 2020, remembering that we had to stick to the walls. We had ventured forward in time and back to try and change things that are affecting our world today. Interestingly, we were trying to avoid a pandemic and to return in time to stop it.

Because the performance was held within the London Library we had access to the amazing historical rooms and books (although we could not touch). In our first time-travel room we were given warnings about the future from personal desk computers all working at the same time. We ventured onwards into reading rooms, archives, places where we could sit in comfy leather seats and beanbags. I had two favourite rooms: first the Times Room where every copy of the Times Newspaper was stored for posterity with no natural light and here we planned our meeting with the future. We ended our journey back in 2020 within the Art Room. I tried not to be distracted by the books that I was desperate to venture inside and to remain focused on the outcome. Did we make a difference? Did we get back in time? You will need to come and find out. 

Performed by only four actors – a real experience in its own right. The Time Machine is on until 5th April. Book now. I really enjoyed it and time flew by in a flash.

Reviewer - Penny Curran
on - 11/3/20

1 comment:

  1. Very glad you enjoyed the show and it was great to welcome you to the Library! Just wanted to add that although many of our members are writers we’re used by a very broad mix of people - from students to researchers, or simply members of the public who love books. We have to charge a membership fee as we get no state funding but we want as many people to join this Library as possible and we're trying to to make it as accessible as we possibly can (half price to under 27s for example). We have around one million books and as a member you can borrow pretty much any one of them - a bibliophile's dream!