H.G. Wells' The Time Machine has tickled the imagination of readers, filmmakers, and sci-fi enthusiasts since its publication in 1895. Until Julian Bane and Phil Abatecola clicked on to their laptops, no one had attempted a stage version of this far-reaching fantasy. This ill-fated version doesn't bid fair to be the one that breaks down any barriers.
The Time Machine itself is a wondrous piece of machinery made of copper piping, valves, taps, and something that looks like a lottery drum, with a tapestry-upholstered Victorian dining chair for the driver. Although it makes a lovely noise, the machine must be moved by stagehands during blackouts, so it's left to the imagination as to how it gets from staid old London town to the outposts of Eloi, which seems prehistoric rather than futuristic, where the unspoiled young beautiful people eat only fruit and have no language. Taking along the prettiest girl, Weena (Rebecca Rainboldt), although he soon loses her, Time Traveler (Bane) stops by his old homestead, where he runs into James (Matt Mowatt), the son of his old friend, David (Mowatt), who is just off to fight another war, a later one than that in which David died in the Philippines in 1917. Next we go underground to do battle with the Morlocks, a tribe of blond-locked Goths who fight dirty and can't stand the light. With the help of the Eloi and a talkative crystal ball named Talkish Light (Abatecola), Time Traveler manages to save the world and get back home in time for dessert.
Bane is credited with building the sets and producing the play, Abatecola with writing and directing. Serious supervision might have pushed this up a notch beyond a junior high school production. A dramaturge and an acting coach would have been appreciable additions to the experience -- as would a program, so we could identify the players.
Presented by Solaris Productions at the Woman's Club of Hollywood,
1749 N. La Brea Ave., Hollywood.
Fri. & Sun. 8 p.m. (Dark Feb. 10 & Mar. 9.) Jan. 25-Mar. 14.
(310) 473-4422. www.timemachinetheplay.com.