I've just got back from seeing The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show Live at the Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton.
I've loved Hitchhiker's since my teenage years, and since I was only born in 1982 that means I never got to hear the original radio series as it was first aired*. Of course, I've listened to the recordings, but to experience something fresh is always a bit more special.
So I jumped at the chance to buy tickets for this. I was not disappointed. The production was fabulous. The visuals, for what is billed as a radio show, were absorbing. The sound was crisp and clear. The vocal acting was exactly what I'd expected, with the voices I've heard so many times through a bit less than twenty years of walkmans (walkmen?), ghettoblasters, hi-fis, stereos, minidisc players and iPods sounding just so much more exactly the same when you're in a room with them.
The story contained the bits you already know and love whilst remaining faithful to the franchise's habit of being almost but not entirely unlike itself in each incarnation: a few new bits chucked in here and there, a handful of musical numbers (including a bit of audience participation in a singalong), some old things happening in a different order, some different things happening in the same order, allusions, tributes and sound effects galore, all tied up with a wonderfully Adams-y contrived ending that commands you to go and read the books again.
Phil Jupitus initially felt a little odd as The Guide, but I warmed to him quite quickly. Marvin** was brilliantly believable. Random (Samantha Béart) was gorgeous. Dirk Maggs was mental, and Simon Jones, Geoff McGivern, Mark Wing-Davey and Susan Sheridan were very much Arthur, Ford, Zaphod and Trillian.
As a whistle-stop tour of the Hitchhiker's Universe, this is a very definite must-see for anyone who calls themself a fan. If you're even half inclined, book your tickets now because I can't imagine such an opportunity coming around again.
I've been deliberately vague because I don't want to spoil things for anyone who's planning to see the show at some point in the rest of its tour, but feel free to get in touch with me on twitter and either ask me stuff or gush with me about how brilliant it was.
* I was, however, around to hear the 3rd, 4th and 5th radio series that were based on the books that were sequels to the books that were based on the first two radio series.
** I've just been amused by the fact that Stephen Moore, who lends his voice to Marvin in the radio series and in this live production, has, listed amongst his "minor characters" roles on his Wikipedia page, The Ruler of the Universe.