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November 2, 2010 > Theatre Review: The Time Machine, or Love Among the Eloi

Theatre Review: The Time Machine, or Love Among the Eloi

By Janet Grant

Imagine the ability to travel through time. Or finding a future free of worry and full of pleasure - a future where every need is met. On October 29th, the Ohlone College Department of Theatre and Dance took us to that future with their world premiere presentation of Edward Mast's The Time Machine, or Love Among the Eloi. Mast's play, based on the "timeless" novella by H.G. Wells, takes the classic and infuses it with comedy, aerobatics, and quite a cool display of lighting effects.

Henry, a Victorian gentleman is explaining to his male guests in his home, his theory of time travel. Scoffed at by his friends, Henry takes his own portable time machine, buckles it on and is off to the far distant future. And what a future Henry finds himself in. He has traveled to a new-found Eden. A place where a youthful, free-spirited race of humans called the Eloi, live in peace and hedonistic pleasure; all their needs taken care of by a group of mysterious shrouded and faceless servants.

Up to this point in the play everything runs fairly true to H. G. Wells' story. But from there, Mast delves enthusiastically into the lives of the Eloi. Lives pretty much based on eating, loving, and procreating as Henry at first deliriously embraces. But soon Henry discovers that living in Paradise does not come without a price; and a rather tragic and horrific price at that.

Patrick Hilt is quite believable as Henry. As the inventor/time traveler, he walks among the Eloi as a proper Victorian inventor should. Full of wonder and prim embarrassment at all the free love he bares witness to. Mr. Hilt is especially delightful with his encounters with Weena, played by the engaging April Labson. Miss Labson is charming in the role of the Eloi that is just a little bit different.

The other female Eloi, Rooba, Koopi, Pootsie and Naki (played by Bella Ohlmeyer, Elise Scarlott, Jesicca Bettencourt and Karen Ordaz), were wonderful at casting their feminine nets out to receptive males. Though their Eloi language took a little time to understand, you got their message pretty fast. In fact, their antics were quite reminiscent of that popular high school crowd that everyone knows and kind of really hates!

The male Eloi, Hook, Chum, Top, Brot, Tak, and Bok (played respectively by Bobby August, Mark McDonald, Alex Lamothe, Mike Tran, Efren Gonzalez, and George Spelvin) were portrayed with enthusiasm and the right amount of goofiness. Again, high school comes to mind. It just goes to show, even in the future as much as things change, some things seem to stay the same! I was quite impressed too, at the athletic process of the male actors, especially Mr. August as he constantly climbed up and slid down from the upper strata of Eloi lodgings.

The Ohlone College presentation of the Time Machine, under the able direction of Tom Blank, is genuinely worth seeing. As H.G. Wells got people to thinking in 1895 of time travel and all its implications, so too does Mast in his unique version. Can you really travel through time without changing it, what is true freedom, and can humans really create a utopia?

From the genteel library of Victorian England, to the eerie dystopian future of mankind rendered so remarkably by scenic artists Stephen C. Wathen and Fred Alim, Ohlone College sets a truly different stage. So sit back and buckle up for Edward Mast's, The Time Machine, or Love Among the Eloi. Rarely has H.G. Wells been presented so provocatively.

Performance dates are:

Friday and Saturday, October 29-30, 2010 8:00 p.m.
Thursday Saturday, November 4-6, 2010 8:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, November 12-13, 2010 8:00 p.m.
(November 4 performance will be ASL Interpreted)

Ohlone College-NUMMI Theatre (At Smith Center)
43600 Mission Boulevard
(510) 510-659-6031

Tickets: $12 - $15

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