The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show – Live! @ The Theatre Royal
Following the story of this futuristic Wiki's previous incarnations as a radio show, BBC television series, trilogy of books (in five volumes), Dirk Maggs (who produced series 3-5 of the radio show) takes it to the stage featuring the original cast. It's a great novelty to have them there, although sometimes the performances of leads, Simon Jones and Geoff McGivern, come across a little played out (after more than three decades) – they lack a little impulse and spontaneity. The performance of Mark Wing-Davey as two-headed Zaphod Beeblebrox, on the other hand, stands out as distinguished.
Maggs cuts right to the chase – literally. Slashing popular but superfluous 'set-up' scenes, we find Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect hitching a lift on a Vogon Cruise-Liner where they are pursued to be expelled into the cold of space (which is really, really big.). An almost slavish fidelity to forging out a narrative from the ragtag compilation of sketches, half-sketches, random asides and multiplying plot-points (many of which never resolve) that make up the body of the Hitchhiker's Guide legacy, sees many hilarious scenes sacrificed or truncated, yet results in an impressively coherent compilation.
The second act is composed mostly of new material patched together from the notes of Douglas Adams posthumously, and proves far more entertaining. There are also some cute sing-alongs to make best use of the live-band who give a stunningly dynamic performance. This is a get-in for HHG fans, and a get-in then get-out-and-read-the-books for those completely new to it. [Antony Sammeroff]