The Time Machine: Temporal Shifts with Mumblecrust Theatre

Mumblecrust Theatre create smart, innovative theatre for families and young people, and recently delighted audiences with their award-winning show ‘The Tale of the Cockatrice’. We sat down with Artistic Co-Director Katie Underhay to find out more about their brand new show in development, The Time Machine.

Mumblecrust Theatre enjoyed well-deserved success with your last performance, ‘The Tale of the Cockatrice’.  Your next show, currently in development, is a re-imagining of the HG Wells classic, ‘The Time Machine’.  What interested you about this story?

We really wanted to try something different with this new show. We loved using the old legend of the cockatrice last time, and thought we’d try adapting a piece of English literature this time around. We discussed a lot of different books and something about The Time Machine intrigued me, even though I hadn’t read it yet! Anthony, the other half of Mumblecrust, knew the story from the old 1960s movie, so we both read it and thought it would be fantastic on stage! I love the fact that HG Wells wrote a sci-fi novel in the 1890s that still isn’t outdated, even to this day. The time traveller leaps 800,000 years into the future, a time still as distant then as now! Likewise, Marty McFly in Back to the Future travels forward to the year 2015, which dates the film more than than Wells’ book. 

Katie Underhay and Artistic Co-Director
Anthony Burbridge in ‘The Tale of the Cockatrice’
Photo: Kirsten McTernan

How do you plan to use puppetry in the performance?

The Time Machine has two fantastic species of evolved humans, the Eloi and the Morlocks. Using puppetry for these is the perfect way to show the difference between them and human beings. The Eloi are cute little pygmy creatures that we hope the audience will fall in love with, whilst the Morlocks are creepy, subterranean creatures, lurking in the darkness. 

Puppetry is an ideal way to portray fantastic, non-human characters on stage, as effective today as it ever was. Even with the advent of modern effects, movies increasingly seem to fall back on puppetry. Puppets are real, textured and present in a way that few other mediums are.

Anthony and Katie in an
R&D session for The Time Machine

The Time Machine is supported via the ‘Shoplifting’ initiative, which is a collaborative scheme set up by Theatre Orchard and Living Spit intended to bolster regional theatre.  Can you tell us more about that and the benefits it will bring?

Being chosen for ‘Shoplifting’ has been amazing for the show and Mumblecrust! We had a great meeting with Living Spit a few weeks ago and it really helped us with the start of the process. We also have their support with marketing, organising an R&D workshop with local kids, and we’ll be rehearsing at Theatre Shop before our ‘Shoplifting’ Premiere.

They were also able to provide some match funding for our Arts Council Grant application, along with Take Art’s BARN initiative, which really helped! It feels great to have the support of Theatre Orchard and Living Spit to create this show.  We were pretty much on our own when we made our first show, The Tale of the Cockatrice, so this is far less lonely – haha!

When will audiences be able to see The Time Machine?

Our ‘Shoplifting’ premiere will be at Theatre Shop, Clevedon, on Friday 19th & Saturday 20th April at 2pm and 5pm (Good Friday and Easter Saturday). It’s so nice to be able to perform on my home turf and to support the local theatre scene. We’re having audience Q&As after each show, taking on board feedback to hone this production ready for our tour, starting in the Autumn. 

We’re only charging £5 a ticket because we want as much feedback as we can get. We’re really looking forward to performing at Theatre Shop again, it’s a lovely venue, really supportive and a great atmosphere!

Interview with Emma Windsor

Book tickets for the premiere of The Time Machine at Theatre Shop Clevedon on the Theatre Orchard website here. To find out more about The Time Machine, the creative team and other work by Mumblecrust Theatre visit their website. Find out all the latest news on Facebook and Twitter, and show your support on

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