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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy brings back childhood memories in Bromley
When I was young my dad recorded a Radio 4 series for me and I would listen to the cassette tapes endlessly.
It told the story of an ape-descended life form from an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet called Earth.
The play was Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which went on to spawn a TV show, a play, computer games, comic books and of course towels.
Now one of the greatest works of science fiction known to man (no bias) is brought to the stage with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show Live.
It features the original cast of main characters except for the late Peter Jones who was the voice of The Book, and died.
To hear and now see Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, still wearing a dressing gown, Geoff McGivern as Ford Prefect, a man who always knows where his towel is, Susan Sheridan as Trillian and the wonderfully voiced Mark Wing-Davey as the irrepressible two-headed, three-armed space dude Zaphod Beeblebrox was a rare treat indeed and brought childhood memories flooding back.
Marvin the Paranoid android also returns as a puppet version but with the original melancholic tones of Stephen Moore moaning about life, the universe and everything.
The stage is set up like a radio studio with each character reading scripts as if they were recording the show for radio again.
Accompanied by a string orchestra and with wonderful sound effects created by on stage sound men as the play unfolds, the drama is less physical and more mental as they conjure up scenarios in your imagination.
The Voice of the Book is played by different actors as the play tours the country.
I watched the brilliant Andrew Sachs at the Bromley Churchill Theatre who gave an admirable performance at the grand old age of 84.
Other actors taking on the role are John Challis aka Boycie from Only Fools and Horses, Christopher Timothy who played James Herriott in All Creatures Great and Small and Monty Python's Terry Jones, while none will replace the achingly brilliant narration of Peter Jones, they all bring an original edge to the various productions.
As the banjo played the familiar opening chords from the Hitchhiker’s theme tune, the audience was instantly transported to Earth where Arthur and Ford were facing the planet's destruction by a Vogon Constructor Fleet to make way for a hyperspace bypass.
Those familiar to the play will see some of the best scenes recreated like the visit to the legendary planet of Magrathea, the spaceship Heart of Gold with its infinite improbability drive, and the Restaurant at the Heart of the Universe where diners are presented with animals who actually want you to eat them to avoid carnivorous guilt.
The second half of the play adds a new twist to events which gives old fans something new to digest and does not sully the original play’s memory as it was probably set in a parallel universe which is so infinitely improbable it is almost certain to happen immediately.
The play is also streamed live on the tour’s website so you can listen to the various versions as they unfold.
Each is very different as the cast although familiar with the play still make a few bloopers which add to the fun.
Anyone who has never seen the amazing work of Douglas Adams should take this opportunity now.
Adams' work, although written in 1979, is still fresh and hilarious and his ideas are still way ahead of their time more than four decades later.
His work is both surreal and insightful with more than a few judgements made on our lifestyles and pettiness which is brought into sharp focus when compared with the infinite size of space.
So sit back, relax, sip on a pan galactic gargle blaster and enjoy once again the genius of Douglas Adams brought to life by familiar friends.