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Time off ...

Brought before a galactic tribunal, the people of Earth are threatened with extermination because they have been cruel, envious and a peril to the peace of the universe.

Another serious offence with which they might have been charged was conceiving a musical like Time, now at the Dominion.

It has been a long time since I have seen so much expensive technological ingenuity squandered on such an infantile project.

Dave Clark, who has produced, directed and co-written the book, lyrics and songs of this curious entertainment, no doubt hoped that his years of effort would not only be profitable but also make some minor contribution to peace and brotherly love.

His plot seems to have been inspired by Star Wars and a Moral Rearmament convention. Because his pop music unites the youth of the world, Chris Wilder, in the person of Cliff Richard, has been sent to the Andromeda galaxy with his backing group to argue that the denizens of Earth are worth saving because they can produce some of the most pulverising, rock sounds in the entire universe.

Making the journey into space involves the audience crashing through a frightening barrier of pulsating noises, revolving and flashing lights and explosive bangs.

It is an experience more likely to be enjoyed by any elders in the theatre - anyone over 25 - if they come equipped with dark glasses and cotton wool for the ears.

Facing the three stellar judges, seated on floating thrones, Cliff Richard's advocacy consists of songs pointing out the obvious fact that "We are a human family, Part of the same tapestry" or repeating tiresomely that "Time will teach us all".

The surprise of the evening is the 14ft fibreglass image of Lawrence Olivier emerging from a huge glittering Easter Egg who, as a Super-being called Akash (perhaps Easy-kash might have been a more appropriate name) looks like a twinkling death mask with a rather grubby nose.

The famous classical voice utters meaningless homilies such as "Through your thoughts you can create your own universe" and "Use Time wisely and go forth in love". I went forth with a sore ear.

Undoubtedly the musical's main achievement is the imagination of the designer John Napier, whose 38ft flying saucer tilts mysteriously up and down accompanied by a storm of needle-like green rays which makes one realise how much more effective at these things is the cinema.

The music has a relentless thrust which gives the choreographer, Larry Fuller, an opportunity for creating some mad, swirling dance numbers.

Cliff Richard, wearing the worried look of a man trying to be good and eternally young forever, provides his usual rhythmic evangelical fervour.

Jeff Shankley makes an imperious Time Lord while Clinton Derricks-Carroll, as a raucous black Captain Ebony, injects the only touch of humour in this ponderous message-laden musical.

If parents are prepared to sit through a gruelling event, I suspect that an audience of eight to 14-year-olds too young to recognise the naivety of it all could keep it going.

Cliff Richard: evangelical fervour

Milton Shulman, The London Standard, 10 April 1986


Copyright © 2002 M. Kniestedt. All rights reserved.