Timeless the Musical

Tue 20th – Sun 25th August 2013

reviews

Lucy Wood

at 00:16 on 22nd Aug 2013

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One of the first things that will strike you about ‘Timeless: the Musical’ is that it is really beautiful. The initial set - a 1920s study – is lavish, complete with art deco couch and the most ornate time machine I have ever seen on stage. The sets and costumes are bright, bold and fun, as is right for a production of this kind.

The story concerns the travels and trials of Walter, the son of a scientist. At the age of six his father constructed a time machine, accidentally destroyed by Walter’s Aunt Francesca, forcing him to wander through the Fourth Dimension. Having come of age, Walter decides to rebuild the time machine and to find his father. Having found the necessary documents (which had somehow fallen down the back of the sofa for the last decade), and with the help of his friend Jack and a girl rescued from an Egyptian tomb (it makes a little more sense in context), they go wandering through history to find him.

There were several good performances from the young cast and the overall ensemble worked very well, despite a few groaningly bad jokes. The musical interludes were generally well done and the music itself was well written and catchy. The individual voices of the performers did tend to get lost in the melee of noise and they perhaps would have benefitted from some microphones, or else simply turning down the music and letting the words carry up to the audience.

Despite these good qualities there seemed to be a basic problem with the script. Although the premise of wandering through time was an interesting one, it began to feel a little over-blown and the audience’s attention began to wander. There were, for example, scenes set at various points across world history which simply didn’t add very much to the play as a whole: the section set in Queen Elizabeth I’s court springs to mind.

Equally problematically, there was a scene in which Walter attempted to travel into the future. He lands up in 1941, bombed-out London, where he watches his future wife and child die. It could be an arresting and powerful end, but, by then, the script has become so tightly wound in on itself that these young actors were simply unable to carry it. And then he goes back to the wife in her contemporary form and the whole thing might as well not have happened.

Overall, a good play, but one which is probably best suited to a young audience.

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Lise McNally

at 01:41 on 22nd Aug 2013

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‘Timeless’ presents a rollicking musical romp in which a hapless intellectual pursues his missing father through time, from an ancient Egyptian tomb through to 1940s London. The cast are a young amateur group, and, although the production lacks polish, the performers do their best to make it shine.

It obviously shouldn’t be compared to some of the professional musicals at the Fringe, but it can be enjoyed along with them. The tunes written by Lee Farman are simple yet surprisingly catchy, and the cast’s collective performance is impressive given their age. The musical numbers are witty and host some good vocal performances—although almost all of the cast need to work a little more on their projection.

Particular plaudits are owed to the Mummy Quintet, who serve as narrators covering the slightly awkward scene changes. Chloe Pamplin, Hazel Farman, Tom Stevenson, Chris Farman and Jono Pamplin prove themselves able to sing a wide range of musical genres, sometimes a cappella, all while playing musical instruments and improvising some audience interaction. The background actors are also particularly engaging—never allowing themselves to break character merely because they don’t have a speaking part, their funny exchanges and energetic mimes provide a lively background to each scene.

Speaking of lively backgrounds, the set and costumes are completely stunning: carefully painted art deco backgrounds and marvelous Egyptian carvings are at once charmingly homemade and commendably authentic-looking. The costume team deserve their own standing ovation for a wide range of colourful and individual costumes, from sumptuous Elizabethan gowns to wonderfully mouldering mummies.

That said, ‘Timeless’ is not for everyone, and is probably only worth the ticket price to those who have younger children to entertain. The script is well crafted, in that it is able to offer innocent family fun, but with enough witty one liners and sly innuendo to keep parents genuinely entertained. However, it cannot be considered adult-quality entertainment. The script inevitably has to take a quick about-turn or two in order to make use of such a large and exuberant cast, and the final few scenes in particular feel like a bit of a desperate tug to bring the story to its conclusion. This feels easy to justify in the face of the obvious fun that is being had on stage, but if it is consistent quality time you’re after, you might be better looking elsewhere than at ‘Timeless’.

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