The Time Traveller’s Wife at Apollo Theatre
Audrey Niffenegger’s beloved novel makes its way to the West End with an impassioned cast. The unusual love story of a couple trying to maintain their relationship through one partner’s ability to time travel has kept readers coming back for more adaptations through the years.
The creators came up with a revolving stage design, allowing varying scenes to play out in a convenient and striking way. The novel, already been adapted for film and television, is directed by Bill Buckhurst, with Lauren Gunderson interpreting the book. Producer Nick Ingram’s wife – an avid reader herself – suggested to him one night that Niffenegger’s novel would make “a great musical”. Through this seed of inspiration, many creatives, including the Eurythmics’s Dave Stewart and singer Joss Stone put their talents to the test.
The production is loyal enough to the book and a visual spectacle, with the score further elevating the story, although the songs – like most, if not all, musicals – are out in quick succession, which can create a sense of desensitisation. Breezy as they may be, there are a couple which stand out, such as the powerful I’m in Control and Damn Fool Love. As the well-known story goes, Henry (David Hunter) has a genetic disorder, allowing him to travel through time unexpectedly, while Clare (Joanna Woodward) is the love of his life, waiting interminably. It must be said, like the novel and film, it’s rather creepy when adult Henry visits Clare as a young girl, even if he has already met her in the future – although this is more to do with Niffenegger’s original concept than anything else.
Henry’s time-travelling is brought to life through the ingenious use of production design and video illustrations: in one scene he disappears like magic from behind a screen door. Although the actors are very good, there is an innate typically American saccharine quality that makes you recoil at times. Moreover, surprisingly, the idiosyncrasies of Henry’s untimely death do not seem to be any cause for concern for Clare, who never even questions it.
Niffenegger’s story is an odd one, but the team have produced a good adaptation that will leave some audience members comfortably content, while others will continue to ponder the plot’s plausibility.
Images: Johan Persson
The Time Traveller’s Wife is at Apollo Theatre from 7th October until 30th March 2024. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.