Updated: Oct 17, 2022
Joss Stone and Dave Stewart, book Lauren Gunderson. Based on the novel by Audrey Niffenegger
In Theatre Productions
Storyhouse Theatre, Chester
Sept 30-Oct 15; 2 hrs 20 mins
How do you cope with a partner who is there one minute and gone the next, only to reappear a couple of moments later, nine years older?
The premise of The Time Traveller’s Wife is fascinating, though implausible: a man wanders through time, reappearing randomly at various times and ages to his wife, for whom time is linear and fixed.
It's a novel twist on time-travel tales: most are like HG Wells' The Time Machine, which simply explore the linear past and future. This story sees time travel contained within one lifetime.
Of course it isn't really about time travel but about an extreme form of the changing nature of relationships, particularly between husband and wife.
It is heartbreaking to see Clare's sense of loss when Henry disappears, but we admire her tenacity and strength of character in staying with him and appreciating him when he is there.
To translate this highly-successful bestseller and film to a stage musical thus requires considerable creativity and this production, shortly to move to the West End, doesn't disappoint. From the revolving set to the costumes, special effects and score, the show radiates imagination.
The leads, Joanna Woodward as Clare and David Hunter as Henry, are excellent and ably supported - even upstaged at times - by Hiba Elchikhe as Charisse and Tim Mahendran as Gomez.
Much was expected of Joss Stone and Dave Stewart's score, and expectations have been fulfilled. There are many songs that could become favourites, particularly the duets between Clare and young Clare, and Henry and his father.
At its heart this is a love story, but the way it plays with ideas is what makes it special. At times Henry is all-knowing and has to refrain from telling the future - even though he hands Clare a winning lottery ticket! At times he is literally ignorant and has to be told by Clare when he has met her before. Sometimes he is young and she is old, and vice-versa.
There is a considerable amount of pathos in the story, and humour too. With such a range of feelings explored, it would be easy to be mawkish, but this is avoided.
The main idea that emerges is that it is important to take each day as it comes and to live life to the full - not the first show with such a message, but here skilfully achieved.
Ultimately this is a warm, feelgood production and of course love wins the day.
I foresee an extended West End run once it hits London, but you'd need to ask Henry to be sure.
Info and tickets here