The Time Travel Tour advertises itself as one part fast paced, historical sketch comedy, one part love letter to science fiction. Our intrepid hero takes us, Doctor Who-like, to various times in history to shed an oblique light on what was going on, and in so doing involves us in a sci-fi excursion, a day trip of potential disaster. Have you been on the Star Tours ride at Disneyland Paris? This show brought that to mind somewhat – an audience shown into a small and rather claustrophobic environment and then told to watch out for what’s about to happen – oh and this is your operator’s first day in the job. Things go wrong, we’re in for a bumpy ride – and that’s all part of the fun.
I really admire Jay Andrews’ vision for this show, and what he has created is extremely demanding on the performer, rushing on and off-stage, lots of costume changes, countless audio cues, and trying to make the content on the video wall synchronise with what’s happening on stage. He clearly put in loads of research to create an original blend of sci-fi and history; two, I must confess, of my least favourite things on this earth! Nevertheless, that was his challenge to me – to make me more interested in them. Unfortunately, I can’t say he succeeded at that, but he’s certainly not the first to fail at it either. However, even for a non-sci-fi-kinda-guy like myself, I did enjoy trying to spot a few of his references – Also sprach Zarathustra, Max Headroom, Tardis and Back to the Future.
This is a very ambitious show that relies on split-second accuracy between the performer and his tech support. Any fractional delay between the conversational flow or the relationship between him and any sound or video effects only emphasises the artificiality of the show and stops you believing in it. In the performance I saw, the sound level of the video footage was way too quiet. You had to really concentrate hard in order to hear what was being said, and, sadly, that hard work detracted from enjoying the humour and relaxing into the show. It would also have worked better if it had been even funnier – if the punchlines had really hit home, and if the scenes from history could have been snappier and even more intriguing.
Jay is clearly a likeable guy with an engaging personality and natural comic ability. Unfortunately, I think he deserved material with more bite; perhaps fewer scenes would help him to build on his relationship with his audience and develop the ideas more. Nevertheless, congratulations on devising one of the more inventive shows of the festival; with more work and tighter tech this could grow into a very successful one-man-show.