The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch

13/04/2019 - 27/04/2019

Production Details


The rumble of dinosaur footsteps can be heard at The Court Theatre as brand-new kids play Time Machine prepares for its April debut, taking the children of Canterbury on a journey through time and space.  

Bringing a bit of sci-fi fun to the theatre, writer Andrew Todd based this brand-new kids play on the original time-travel story The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.

“I’ve taken Wells’ story and infused it with the energy of fellow time-travel work Doctor Who! This version has plucky and likeable lead characters, some wild time-travel antics and, since we’re travelling in time, dinosaurs and robots. Everyone likes dinosaurs and robots!”

Taking our audience to the pre-historic past and robot-filled future are characters Professor Wells, the inventor of the time machine, played by Monique Clementson, and her assistant, Eloise, played by Hillary Moulder. The pair embark on their adventure after Wells’ patron, played by Dylan Frewin, demands she proves her invention works – or else!

Speaking about the show, director Ben Freeth says “Time Machine covers all your sci-fi bases which is cool. You don’t normally get sci-fi in theatre, let alone in a play for kids, so it’s something different!”

Freeth, known for his on-stage performances in shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar and kids plays The Ugly Duckling and Cops and Robbers, is making his mainstage directorial debut here at The Court in Time Machine.

“I’m very excited to be directing my first kids show here at The Court! I love kids shows. I’ve done my fair share of performing in them and I always find it exciting seeing what makes kids engage and listen.”

Freeth’s vision is to create an inspiring spectacle that challenges the audience’s imagination, introducing them to creatures they’ve only dreamed about.  

“What I want to capture is a bit of theatre magic; things that make the kids ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’! I want to provide moments of spectacle.”

With a cast that includes a T-Rex and a talking robot, Time Machine will certainly provide plenty of excitement for Canterbury’s 5 – 8 year olds these school holidays.

As for what Freeth and Todd would do with a time machine of their own, they’ve got very different destinations in mind…

“I’d have to go to the future,” says Freeth. “I’ve read what’s happened in the past, so why not seek out the mysteries of the future?”

Todd, meanwhile, would be turning the dial backwards…

“If I had a time machine, I’d travel back to earlier in the day, so I could find where I left my keys,” he laughs. “Or, you know, dinosaurs. Again… everyone likes dinosaurs.”

Time Machine will be running at The Court Theatre from the 13 – 27 April 2019, with a relaxed performance on Saturday 27th April at 11am. Relaxed performances are special shows for those with sensory needs. Lighting and sound are adjusted, capacity is reduced to allow for freer movement and there is a “chill-out” area in the foyer.   

The Court Theatre’s mainstage
13 – 27 April 2019
Monday – Friday:  11am & 1pm
Saturday 13th & 20th April:  11am
Saturday 27th April – relaxed performance:  11am
Saturday 27th April:  1pm
Please note: there will be no performances on Friday 19th April or Monday 22nd April and only one performance at 1pm on Thursday 25th April
All Tickets:  $10
Bookings: phone 03 963 0870 or visit www.courttheatre.org.nz

Wells:  Monique Clementson
Eloise:  Hillary Moulder
Lockbottom:  Dylan Frewin

Writer:  Andrew Todd
Director:  Ben Freeth
Set Designer:  Nigel Kerr
Costume Designer:  Hayley Douglas
Lighting Designer:  Giles Tanner
Sound Designer:  Hamish Oliver
Stage Manager:  Jo Bunce
Assistant Stage Manager:  Danielle Rackham 

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,

1 hr

A captivating and amusing jaunt through time

Review by Fiona S Giles 14th Apr 2019

Around us chattering children and their equally-animated parents stream into the theatre. In front of us the stage is set to a packed, eccentrically messy living room, grandfather clock ticking loudly. Strange contraptions, cogs and wheels abound. It looks late-Victorian, perhaps? (We later find out the setting is 1919, exactly 100 years ago.)

First one, then two women wander on stage, busying about their contraptions, leave the stage, and return again. They ignore the audience, busy about their work. Their marvellous costumes have a Steampunk-inspired look to them, made by the talented Hayley Douglas.

With an ominous thumping at the door, the show begins proper. Eloise, the bubbly assistant, calls desperately for the professor. Professor Wells appears, rather dazed, brought sharply and comically back to reality by the news her dastardly patron and landlord has arrived.  

The fiendishly unlikeable Lockbottom dominates the room with his large voice, large monocle and large waistband. Thoroughly unaffected by such wacky inventions as the Duo Contronometer, he demands to be impressed. Or Professor Wells and Eloise are out on their ear.

Caught in a bind, Wells agrees to retrieve historical treasures with her prototype time machine, a fantastically Steampunk wristwatch. So begins the adventures of Eloise and Professor Wells, who visit a T-Rex, 2019 and the future, in order to impress their less-than-benevolent benefactor, in this modern retelling of H. G. Wells’ classic story, The Time Machine.

As Professor Wells, Hillary Moulder brings a Doctor Whovian eccentricity to her performance. Her expressive face and flamboyant physicality gets the kids standing up in their seats and shouting encouragement.

Monique Clementson as Eloise is a joy to watch. Her light-hearted expressiveness lifts Eloise from mere assistant to spunky comrade. And clearly Wells would not have succeeded without her (much like Dr Who and his/her companions).

Dylan Frewin completes the cast list by ably playing a variety of roles, from Lockbottom to dinosaur to robot and beyond.

Writer Andrew Todd has worked with The Court since 2006, and this is his first time writing a show. Likewise director Ben Freeth is directing his first main stage show (he has previously directed a schools show). Todd aimed to “take Well’s story and infuse it with the energy of Doctor Who,” while Freeth hoped to “capture theatre magic”. I think for a first time writer and director it could not have gone better. The Time Machine is a captivating and amusing jaunt through time, with no irritating moral to beat you over the head with. Less laugh-out-loud funny than some Court children’s shows I have seen, but still pure entertainment.

And of course it would not be a Kids Show at the Court without the laughs and humour that make it a mainstay of the school holidays. Bottom jokes abound, my 5-year-old is delighted to discover. My youngest is particularly taken by the amusing shadow puppet journey through time. Comical chase scenes, not-so-scary monsters and some hilarious audience interaction make for an entertaining morning. I can’t help but laugh when, searching for a technological marvel of 2019, Wells is handed that beguiling object, a Lindor egg. Audience participation like this makes every performance unique, something I love about the kids shows.

I ask my daughter what her favourite part of the show was, and she says it was something that happens at the end, so I won’t spoil it. I’ll leave you to find out for yourself.


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