Reviewed by Harry Mottram – originally published on HarryMottram.co.uk
The Wardrobe Theatre and The Wardrobe Ensemble co-production
Playing at The Wardrobe Theatre until April 8th; returning 29th May – 4th June
For ages 3-8
Inventive, improvisational and educational. The Wardrobe Theatre Ensemble and the Wardrobe Theatre’s production of The Time Seekers is noisy, necessarily anarchic and chaotic, but it is also a well-constructed show that embraces the audience with open arms and indeed bandages.
Gammo (Helena Middleton), Betty (Jesse Meadows) and Alph (Ben Vardy) put a huge amount of energy into taking the audience on a journey through time to recover four Chrono-Clock pieces which will save the planet from total destruction. We meet a poo-asaurus (a new type of dinosaur suggested by a member of the audience), an eccentric Egyptian pyramid, a grumpy robot and Betty in a futuristic guise. All of this is possible with a time machine that needs food to fire it up, sound effects and some neat lighting along with a movable four sided set on wheels to give a semblance of a backdrop to the quirky scenes designed by Nicola Holter.
Directed by Helena Middleton and aided by Matthew Whittle, the show races along at near galactic pace with infectious movement and songs that sweep up the audience into a frenzy of excitement. Jack Drewry’s musical direction added an extra dimension along with repetitive movement picked up by the audience every time The Time Seekers shifted time zones.
Simple household items were made use of for props, such as green socks to represent the humid vegetation of the dinosaur world, while the cast used their (and the audience’s) imagination to tell the story of the hunt through time. Some younger children were overwhelmed by the frenetic energy and the constant bombardment of information although they seemed engaged, while more confident and older children of seven and eight were often so over-excited they wanted to join the cast in the performance area.
With colour coordinated outfits and with the tone of enthusiastic geography teachers there was an undeniable CBeebies feel to the style. The narrative was clear, but with few quieter or reflective moments or even character development the production is more of a show than a play.