Friday, March 17, 2006

REVIEW - THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, Live on Stage in Philadelphia

Last night I went to the Walnut Street Theater, Studio 5 for Curio Theatre Company's production of "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Part 1".

The show comprised the first three radio scripts with original sound effects, music and semi-animated illustrations. Three actors played multiple parts at lecterns, only emerging to perform two funny little dances between "episodes".

Susan Jude was the real highlight for me. Perky and expressive, her Book readings were superb, her hilarious Eddie the Shipboard Computer reminded me of an over-caffeinated Sandra Dickinson, and her Vogon Guard was as alienesque as they come. Frighteningly funny.

Drew Peterson was great as Arthur Dent, and his apoplexy at having his house demolished was fabulous. His quick switches for the Arthur/Marvin exchanges were also very well done.

Jerry Rudasill played most of the other characters in the show. From Mr. Prosser, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox to Slartibartfast, his energy was unfailing. His French accented Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz was something of a surprise, but one that worked particularly well.

The original sounds effects and music (no Journey of the Sorcerer) were mostly excellent, and the screen visuals included a headless Marvin, one-eyed Vogons, and a more alien looking Slartibartfast. There was a curious sound effect for the "man proves black is white and gets killed on the next zebra-crossing" line. Thundering hooves instead of the screech of tyres(?). Hmmm... Think Abbey Road rather than actual zebras.

The mixture of "audio" and semi-animated images remined me of another Douglas Adams script; the webcast of Doctor Who - Shada.

The script was almost identical to the radio version on CD, but different accents and intonations made it distinctly different to the BBC production. This entertaining show ended with the episode three cliffhanger, but we're promised that Part Two (episodes 4-6) will be back next year to take us on to the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe. I'm looking forward to it. Congratulations to all involved.

The show continues its run at the Walnut Theater in Philadelphia until March 26th, 2006.