Dom Coyote’s pioneering brand of gig-theatre now tackles that perennially popular theme, time-travel. In the faintly sinister cellars of Shoreditch Town Hall, Coyote urges us to join him on an excitingly intimate journey into the weirder recesses of time and space.
Since he was a child, Dom thinks he’s been receiving mysterious messages from a voice known only as the “Traveller” attempting to connect with the present from the fringes of time itself. The catalyst for Dom’s whole-hearted plunge into time-traveller territory comes when he receives a tape recording from his grandfather, Jack, a sound scientist who was lost at sea during an experiment gone wrong.
This tape, played back to us, is at first heard just as a random collection of sounds – crickets chirping, ice breaking – but Dom thinks he can hear a more urgent message underlying this. Feeding the tape through his various synthesisers (the set is laden with sound equipment, doubling as bleeping-flashing time traveller hardware), a strangely sinister lyric is revealed: “The earth had come to rest with one face to the sun”. This, Dom explains, is a direct quote from HG Well’s famous novella, The Time Machine. With this discovery, we’re off into a journey through time that is half adventure, half psychological survey. Dom’s ostensible purpose is to see if he can pinpoint the moment his grandfather was list to the sea, and see if he can prevent it, but his quest (inevitably) becomes much murkier and more complex. Along the way, he attracts the attention of a secret subsection of the H.G Wells society, who also claims to have heard the Traveller’s timeless message, and is now following Dom’s mission with a keen eye.
The different sections of the narrative are pulled together through Coyote’s own unique brand of music performance, galloping across a lively soundscape that includes eerie, husky folk-esque melodies and the poppy anthem “Our Time is Running Out” (the show’s title track). Coyote proves himself a talented and versatile performer, and his voice is a shiver-raising delight – there are touches of Kate Bush in his inter-galactic wailing, and heavy use of synthesisers conjures an enjoyable 80s atmosphere. Coyote himself, wide-eyed and increasingly ethereal, is an endearing travelling companion, with more than a touch of the Whovian about him.
The show overreaches itself a little at points – in trying to illustrate the intense complexity of our notions of time and memory, it strays slightly into a sententiousness which is a little too heavy for the story to hold up. Its essential messages about nostalgia, loss and hope are engaging, though, and if the plot doesn’t bear too close inspection, the intriguing cocktail of sound, storytelling and an assured central performance still make this a trip worth taking.
We Can Time Travel played at The Ditch at the Shoreditch Town Hall until 5 May 2018
Photo: Dom Coyote