To explain the setup, the narrator/book sits raised up at the back of the performance area, flanked by the live effects people (foley artists) in scientist's white coats. At floor level either side of these are the live sound mixer and the script supervisor, then three floor microphones on either side with a hanging microphone in the middle of the stage. Most of the action in performed in the middle, but when microphone effects are required an actor will use one of those at the side which are also used when the action calls for separation between actors. The programme explains which actors are playing which parts in the different Fits of the story. Barry Ward playing Arthur and the book, Karen Bartke, are the only ones to just play a single character. Barry keeps his script tucked in his dressing gown pocket all the way through the production, which are where his hands are usually found as well as his lets his face run through a wide array of expressions as Arthur's trip round the galaxy develops. Euan Cuthbetson is a seriously quirky Ford Prefect, using his script as an extra prop at times, and makes a very good and very animated whale. Trillian (Janis Marshall) and Zaphod (Euan Galbraith) work well with lesser material, but Janis's Majikthise and Euan's Vogon Guard steal their scenes with their Scottish accents. Paul Kozinski gets the best lines as he plays Marvin, but also stands out as Jeltz and Number Two amongst his other roles. Stuart Bishop, Nick Jones and Samantha Shields make up the remainder of the cast playing nineteen characters between them.
Staging a radio script reading is a risk, but the direction turns a potential weakness into a strength with the improbability sequence particularly imaginatively done. You get a 15 minute break after Fit the Third, and as there are a few cuts to the script the whole performance is around three hours long, ending around 22:30, so I recommend eating before you go, and I do recommend going to see the production. It runs until Saturday 2nd April. Tickets via http://www.ticketsoup.com/tickets/the-hitch-hikers-guide-to-the-galaxy-2011-12306/default.aspx
A longer review will be in a forthcoming ZZ9 club magazine.
Summary: I've seen it. It's not rubbish.
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