Adelaide Fringe. Alley Cat at Rhino Room. 8 Mar 2023
David Innes and Robert Lloyd, known together as Innes Lloyd, are rare thespians: they are writers, performers, mimics, singers, historians, and researchers.
Their show Journey to the Centre of the Earth is a retelling of Jules Verne’s classic 1864 science fiction novel that tells the story of Professor Lidenbrock and his nephew Alex as they travel deep down into a dormant Icelandic volcano in the belief they have found a passage to the centre of the earth. The way is shown to them after having discovered a medieval document prepared by an alchemist. They travel from Hamburg to Reykjavík and begin their adventure. Along the way they confront giant mushrooms, supposedly extinct fish and dinosaurs and mastodons, storms, various physical dangers etc. Suffice to say, they have a rugged time before they eventually find their way out. The story has been made into several films (most recently starring Brendan Fraser), in various languages, and has been set to music, most notably by Rick Wakeman.
With the aid of a flip chart, which serves as a sort of program and provides visual cues for the benefit of the audience, Innes and Lloyd act out Verne’s story in a brisk 50 minutes with great humour and stye. They pepper their script with impromptu responses to audience reactions that would do a stand-up comedian proud, and lay on lots of ‘fun facts’ and references (sometimes enjoyably obscure!) to all manner of things to keep the audience on its toes.
Innes and Lloyd are almost vaudevillian in their approach, and they constantly engage and delight the audience – the pace never drags! Their script is a celebration of language: it’s intelligent, witty, well written and always funny (with no reliance on ‘blue’ language to get the audience laughing!). They quickly put smiles on the face of everyone in the room, which stay there and get broader as the show progresses. This reviewer’s face ached!
A highlight of the show is an excellent backing track of sound effects and music that Innes and Lloyd have meticulously put together and flawlessly perform in sync with. It’s as if there is an invisible foley artist on stage with them. The sound effects, coupled with the oh-so-funny flip chart and the polished stage craft of Innes and Lloyd, adds up to a fun and stimulating show, and all performed in the tiniest theatre that has ever existed! You couldn’t swing an alley cat in it!
When: 8 to 12 Mar
Where: Alley Cat at Rhino Room