This past Saturday, the Alley Theater returned for part two of its live rendition of the BBC’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio drama. Four actors performed the lines, sounds, and background action into set up microphones, mimicking a recording studio in the 1970’s. Given such good material, the show predictably exhibited all the charm and playfulness of Douglas Adam’s words with some lively performances.
Being the second part of the series, it begins after the group of wayward space farers has already escaped numerous endangering situations. Having divined the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, which is 42, they now are mildly curious to find what the question might be. But before any of that, they wind up at one of the most interesting dining destinations in the whole galaxy: Milliways, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
Rather than act out the radio drama for an audience, the players inhabited a dated studio, dressing the part of when the show was originally on the air. All of the recorded music and sound profiles had a real grainy electronic feel, and I enjoyed this decision to cast a 70’s atmosphere over the production. It added a whimsical texture to an already fantastical story.
The actors did range from fine to great, but beyond that, their enjoyment of acting out the Hitchhiker’s Guide stood out. Alan Canon as the narrator and Marvin, the perpetually depressed android with a brain the size of a planet, gave an exceptionally great performance, finding pitch-perfect inflection with an impressively good accent. Scott Goodman as Zaphod Beeblebrox, hit comedically-timed line after comedically-timed line, and really nailed the sort of ridiculous conversation that one can only find in the Hitchhiker’s Guide universe.
I did laugh a lot, and I can’t credit all of it to Douglas Adams. These four enjoyable people put on a light, engaging show. There were skips and stutters along the way, but rather than finding them jarring or distracting, I felt like it put me even more in the room broadcasting a live radio drama. A late show it may be, but I recommend it for anyone who wants some extreme silliness in their Saturday night.
Part two of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series will run the next three Saturdays, April 14th, 21st, and 28th. All shows begin at 10pm at the Alley Theater, 1205 East Washington St. Suite 120. Tickets are $10 at the door or can be purchased in advance at alleytheater.org
Image: Courtesy The Alley Theater