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HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY: It's far out
SOMEWHERE, in a parallel universe, director Dirk Maggs is explaining at break-neck speed how he has warped the time-space continuum.
“And that’s why we open in a prehistoric setting,” he rattles. “Basically, I arranged it so that the baddies have messed around with time, which makes flitting from time to time much easier for us. What I’ve done was get in with a spanner and rebolted all the time sequences.”
And then, sensing he might have lost me at “prehistoric” he pauses for breath. “But it’s not as complicated as I’m making it sound! It’s like a software person trying to explain all the codes that make it work when all you want to do is send an email!
“Trust me, it makes beautiful sense!”
And here’s hoping so, because there will be plenty of fans eagerly awaiting Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show – Live!
The show, which lands at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday, unites the original Radio 4 series cast for a ground-breaking stage production based on Douglas Adams’ legendary comic sci-fi saga.
Simon Jones stars as Arthur Dent, the classic English bloke who finds himself the last human survivor after the planet is lined up for demolition. Phil Jupitus and Rory McGrath will guest star as Voice Of The Book and the ‘radio’ part of the show is no gimmick – each event will be recorded and available to download afterwards.
So, being such an cult classic, how has Dirk dealt with the task of adapting a fans’ favourite without the guiding hand of Douglas, who died last year. “I miss Douglas like mad – and I haven’t found it easy – it’s pretty scary doing brain surgery on a Douglas Adams book,” he admits. “Douglas wrote this as a concept album and didn’t write this for an audience. But the fans are extreme – we will get some people in dressing gowns, mouthing all the words. As cult statuses go, it’s a bit like the Rocky Horror Picture Show fanbase – without the suspenders.”
But what about those who missed the book and radio show – will the show have something to offer newcomers? “People who don’t know it laugh because it’s startlingly clever and funny,” says Dirk.
“This has been a hell of a ride, 30-odd years since I got involved, and when Douglas asked me to adapt it, I was round his house before he had put the phone down!
“I’m constantly amazed how ahead of his time Douglas was.
“He predicts iPhones, iPads, the whole handheld gadget thing. He writes about privacy issues, crazy bureaucracy and the box-ticking mentality – it’s incredibly prescient. But it’s funny and not doom-laden.
“I think the story will endure for as long as Alice or Pooh – always I hope – because it’s so iconic.”
And hardcore fans of the book and newbies are sure to be entertained by robots on stage and a live band, with Dirk on drums.
Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Live! is at 8pm on Friday, June 15, and Saturday, June 16. Tickets are £19.50-£26.50. To book, call the box office on 01604 624 811 or visit royalandderngate.co.uk.