Left – Mark Lee. Cover – Mark Lee. Photos – Robert Catto
“The censorship, with its quite wanton power of suppression, has always been one of the reasons why I haven’t ventured into playwriting” said HG Wells.
Well, HG, FG, that's Frank Gauntlett, has ventured for you, adapting your 32,400 word novella, The Time Machine, into a concise seventy minute play. And, for good or bad, nothing to censor.
HG Wells' The Time Machine provided the clearest insistence on the insecurity of progress and the possibility of human degeneration and extinction, written towards the end of an era, shot through with pessimism and impenitent socialism. And Gauntlett remains impenitent.
Yet Gauntlett's reverent rendering would remain just words on a page if not for the performance of Mark Lee, whose awesome oratory skills and commanding stage presence elevate The Time Machine from mere recitation or story telling to a finely observed, nuanced and crafted characterisation full of exploit that expands the exposition.
Mark Lee dressed in sartorial splendour and splendidly groomed at the beginning of this ripping yarn, transforms into someone who has had a time of it when he is delivered back to his present, Victorian England after travelling to the year 802,701 AD, an intensely imagined and inventive fellow, a standing oration who walks and talks the wonders and terrors experienced.
We don’t see the machine – the saddle, the levers and bars – even the miniature model is kept draped during the performance. Like almost everything else, it is evoked by Lee's narrative.
For a science fiction yarn, The Time Machine is very light on special effects – indeed the special effect is largely the lighting, arranged, choreographed and focused by Martin Kinnane, adding extra dazzle to the show's fine filament of imagination.
Derrick Cox's simple, effective period wall light fixture and red velvet curtain set evokes Victorian England and there's an ethereal quality to Michael Waters' sound design.
Directed by Gareth Boylan, The Time Machine is an exuberant solo performance fuelled by the elements of eloquence.
Strange Duck Productions presents
The Time Machine
by Frank Gauntlett | based on the novella by HG Wells
Director Gareth Boylan
Venue: NIDA Playhouse Theatre | 215 Anzac Parade Kensington NSW
Dates: 11 April – 2 May 2018
Tickets: from $40.50