A live radio show might sound like a strange concept but thanks to the efforts of the most Hitchhikers team and the other Playhouse staff – it works.
This was a one off show in Edinburgh, recorded live and available for download later. That said, the it seems possible that the show may return later. The fan base is still huge and when you can attract guest stars like Neil Gaiman and “I’m a PC” American comedian John Hodgman it means you’ve a success worth making the most of.
The “live radio show” is essentially a reading of a highly abridged version of all five books in the trilogy. There are songs too, not many but still just enough to be pushing it. Some of the audience embraced the singalong requests. Mind you, some of the audience embraced the Hitchhikers mythos so thoroughly that they turned up in their dressing gowns and brought towels.
The show is in two parts and tries to capture all the iconic scenes. Given that we’ve got lots of books to get through this is quite a challenge. The start of the book, the most well known, is given the most attention; babel fish, vogons and rescue from outer space. By the second half we’ve skipped through most jokes that the lines “it feels like entire chapters of my life are missing” don’t just fit the time travelling plot but are an inside nod, wink and acceptance of the summary for the audience.
The performance is made all that better, all the more in-the-know, by having original members of the initial radio series on the stage. Neil Gaiman’s voice makes an excellent book. As it happens, John Hodgman worked wonders in his brief cameo too.
Without a doubt this is a performance than fans would adore – although given the face of Douglas Adams appearing over the stage it’s easy to imagine that some of the standing ovations were directed as much to the famous author as the radio team.
There’s more to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show Live than just the die hard fans would enjoy, though.
The set, for one, was impressive. A collection of sci-fi designs that also managed to hark back to the 60s. If you get the chance – pay attention to what happens to the radio set at the back right of the stage.
Then there’s Marvin. The depressed robot is often the highlight of any Hitchhiker’s adaptation and once again he was heroically sulky for us. I’d tell him how good he was – but he wouldn’t care and it would only upset him.
The music is great. Watch (or listen) out for the band sneaking in the occasional snippet of Doctor Who and other classics. In fact, one of the real joys of being able to watch a radio show recorded live is being able to watch how the special sound effects are played. A rather busy man, just to the left of the stage, thumped his desk with a mallet for foot steps, tossed bolts into a bucket, poured water and even beat the heck out of a blown up Earth.
Recommended. If you ever get the chance – go watch.
Reviewed by Andrew Girdwood on , 2012.
A blastic of Sci-Fi escapism, expertly read, presented and sung
The cast and crew of the radio show live put together a fast paced run through of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Strong storytelling, sounds effects and, surprisingly, strong visuals too.
Rating: 4/5 Edinburgh Stars.