The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show Live, Edinburgh Playhouse 21 July 2012
As one who has been a fan of H2G2 ever since the first episode was broadcast on Radio 4 back in 1978 i was hardly going to miss this: a live performance of much of Series One plus some later material, given by (mostly) the origonal radio cast (Simon Jones as Arthur, Geoff McGivern as Ford, Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod, Susan Sheridan as Trillian, with the (recorded) voice of Stephen Moore as Marvin. A rotating collection of celebrities took the role of The Book. Some friends of mine had some impressionist I'd never heard of: good though he apparently was, we had Neil Gaiman, which was marvellous in itself (the man is a legend). That he was also very good was the icing on the cake.
The show itself was delightful. We had the first four Fits of Series One before the break, and a melange of later material after it. the actors were all as I remembered them (Zaphod had two heads but they didn't try to give him an extra arm, however much it suited him). It was very much done as "people on stage recording a radio show", and the show in question will be made available as a podcast (perhaps it already is), so had a laid-back atmosphere entirely befitting the show. The occasional overlap or fluffed line was brushed off with a smile, and somehow it took us back not just to 1978 but to the 1960s, with Round the Horne and I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again. Marvin's physical manifestation was much better than the pathetic thing from the TV show, and more humanoid than the film one: and of course it was voiced by Stephen Moore, whose career has surely been defined as tightly and permanently as that of Andy Serkis. (They've both done many other things, but they can no more escape the gravitational pull of their most iconic roles than Colin Firth can escape Darcy's wet shirt.) We had a sound effects desk onstage, and it was fun watching the FX guy producing some of the noises.
Rather than using The Eagles' version of the theme tune, we had an on-stage band. Actually they played more Pink Floyd than Eagles (though they didn't use the original gag about Marvin playing Floyd)
What did I miss? Well, we had Arthur's encounter with the Nutri-Matic machine, but no statue of Arthur Dent Throwing the Nutri-Matic Cup.We had no Hig Hirtenflirst or Lintilla. No little old man with a cat called The Lord., and not much Vogon poetry. The whole opening scene where Arthur is trying to stop his house being demolished: gone. We did have Milliways, and Fenchurch, and the "Share and Enjoy" song (with lyrics projected for audience participation), We had references which weren't explained (so would have puzzled those not already in the H2G2 elect) to the Krikkit Warss, and Stavromula Beta.
All in all, a great night: an experience akin to having your brains knocked out by a slice of lemon wrapped around a 1960s transistor radio.