Last night I attended the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show Live at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth.
The original radio cast were in attendance, except for the sadly departed Peter Jones who had provided the voice of the eponymous book.
There was a great atmosphere in the build up to the show, with plenty of Sci-Fi effects being played out from the speaker system in the theatre, and in a very moving moment, there is a distorted sound like an analogue radio being tuned, when the signal becomes clear the voice of Douglas Adams comes through loud and clear, telling anecdotes about the writing of the series and talking about his plans for the movie version.
As Douglas' voice fades away the sound of a vast storm brewing starts emanating from the speakers and the house band walk on to the stage and launch into a rip roaring version of Pink Floyd's One Of These Days, fitting as Douglas was a friend of David Gilmour from the Floyd and also because part of the song drifts off into the Doctor Who theme (which Douglas famously wrote for/script edited).
Once the final notes have died away the band play Journey Of The Sorcerer, the theme used for the show in all of it's many guises.
And when the cast walk on stage they receive warm applause, and although they have advanced in years (haven't we all!) they have aged with grace, their voices still sound as good as ever and the assembled crowd are soon lapping up all the memorable dialogue they know and love from this classic story.
Simon Jones is, in my opinion, the quintessential Arthur Dent, his voice manages just the perfect level of bewilderment and indignation to excellent comic effect. Mark Wing-Davey is as cocky as ever in the role of Zaphod Beeblebrox, his second head and third arm are skillfully provided by a colleague! Geoff McGivern and Susan Sheridan reprise their roles as Ford Prefect and Trillian as though they had never been away from their roles.
Two of my favourite characters are voiced from recordings, Marvin, the paranoid android (voiced by the marvelous Stephen Moore) who appears on stage with the help of a puppeteer. And the demented Agrajag voiced by the late lamented Douglas Adams himself.
The voice of the book is given to a guest actor in each performance, for last night's performance we were treated to the wonderful (and ever so slightly erratic) Rory McGrath. Other guests to provide the voice of the book include: Billy Boyd, Phill Jupitus, Roger McGough, Jon Culshaw, Christopher Timothy, Clive Anderson, Andrew Sachs, John Challis, Hugh Dennis, John Lloyd, Terry Jones and Neil Gaiman.
The supporting cast are fantastic, Toby Longworth doubles as Slartibartfast and Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz with great aplomb. And Andy Secombe and Philip Pope are wonderful in their numerous roles, including the doors of the Heart Of Gold space ship and our mousey overlords Frankie and Benjy.
There are singalong musical numbers, with some very impressive robotic dancing by Mr Longworth! I think this show really exudes the feelgood factor, and the audience are soon swept away by the sheer silliness of this wonderful story.
At the end of the show when the cast came back on stage for their much deserved applause, I thought it was a very neat touch to have a picture of Douglas Adams projected on to the stage, giving everyone there a chance to show their appreciation of him.
If you are a fan of Adams' writing and sense of humour you should really go to one of the dates on this tour, it's zarking amazing!