It's a safe bet that writer-director Phil Abatecola and producer-lead performer Julian Bane are big fans of this H.G. Wells science-fiction classic and have always wanted to stage it. Popularized by the 1960 movie starring Rod Taylor, Wells' Victorian novel was a cautionary tale about violence and class warfare, and the propensity of the human race to engineer its own destruction. The story tells of a Time Traveler (Bane) propelled hundreds of thousands of years into the future; there he attempts to liberate a defenseless community of young people called the Eloi from their carnivorous oppressors, the Morlocks. This adaptation appropriates chunks of the film's dialogue and features a model of the time machine that resembles the one in the film. Besides this impressively constructed prop, the production's pluses include a proficient set design (uncredited) that incorporates portable backdrops for wilderness exteriors. (The changes are smoothly executed.) The most notable production elements are designer Marie Brabant's costumes and Joseph Slawinski's striking sound design, which, in tandem with the strobe lighting (no designer credited), create a futuristic ambiance. The performances are another matter, however. Despite earnest efforts, none rise to a professional level. The drawing-room scenes (in which the Time Traveler recounts his adventures to his upper-class colleagues) are stagy, while the more wild and woolly sequences where the Morlocks assault the traveler are well-choreographed but as verbally caricatural as a comic strip.
Fridays, Sundays, 8 p.m. Starts: Jan. 25. Continues through March 14, 2008

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