One of London's most famous libraries is dabbling in immersive theatre... and it's about time.
The Time Machine was the first full-length novel by HG Wells. It's 125 years old this year.
You may have read the book, or perhaps seen that slightly poor film version with Mike from Neighbours. Chances are, though, you've never experienced the story as immersive theatre set among the books shelves of a library.
Now you can. The London Library in St James's Square — of which Wells was a member for 50 years — is celebrating the anniversary with a site-specific adaptation.
This new interpretation comes courtesy of Creation Theatre and award-winning playwright Jonathan Holloway, who: "pulls apart this classic sci-fi novel, re-invents it, and pieces it back together to create a world in which the present is endlessly shifting, and the future is strange and uncertain. Travellers tinker with timelines causing people’s names, faces and indeed the colour of their socks to change without warning".
It sounds like a fairly radical reinterpretation, and it needs to be. Much of the action in the novel takes place in very un-library-like environments. The hills of Richmond in the far future, subterranean caverns, and a beach full of crabs at the end of the world would sit awkwardly beside the literary treasures of the London Library.
Instead, this very modern reworking has drawn on the expertise of Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities, with advice from experts on genomics and bionic weaponry. Not your average theatrical diversion, then.
The story will be told promenade-style, with small groups led through the 'labyrinthine' library by the time traveller. We're told to "Expect the unexpected and prepare to be provoked on this journey into the unknown."
The show starts on the temporally curious date of 29 February and runs until 5 April 2020.
The Time Traveller, is presented by Creation Theatre, adapted by Jonathan Holloway and directed by Natasha Rickman. The London Library, St James's Square. Wednesday to Sunday. Performances start 7pm, 7.20pm, 7.40pm and 8pm. Sunday performances start at 5pm, 5.20pm, 5.40pm and 6pm. Tickets: £32-£35, £28 London Library Members, £18 Previews.