The Time Machine | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Time Machine 

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The Time Machine, Charmaine & Company and ClassicWorks Theatre Company. H.G. Wells's prototypical science fiction story is perfectly suited to puppet-show adaptation, given the two disparate races it depicts, the gentle, childlike Eloi and the hulking, brutal Morlocks. These creatures are encountered by a scientist who, discovering a way to break into the fourth dimension, journeys into what he naively assumes will be a more humane and civilized future.

Of course, 19th-century literature tends toward long, intricately worded tomes intended for leisurely reading, and puppets have a limited range of visual and vocal expression. But in this touring production, jointly produced by Charmaine & Company and ClassicWorks Theatre, a mere two actors and three life-size and lifelike puppets manage to convey, over a bare 40 minutes, not only the events of Wells's narrative but also the lesson to be learned from the futuristic society he projects--a lesson as timely now as it was in 1895.

Robert Kauzlaric is suitably priggish as the Victorian inventor, his formal speech contrasting with the banter of Marc Pera, who acts as our narrator as well as the headwaiter at a club, the manipulator of the Eloi puppets, and a hideous Morlock. Minimal scenery, designed for school assemblies, is enhanced by a time machine ingenious enough to spark any audience's imagination.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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