There’s no easy way to explain how utterly worth your time “The Time Machine: A Scientific Romance” is without spoiling any of the fun. What I can say, however, is it’s one of the most inventive and endearingly homespun productions D.C. has seen this year.
The premise is simple: not so much a play as an interactive experience, Science Fiction Trope‘s “Time Machine” walks you room by room through puzzles and games inspired by H.G. Wells, unraveling a story of two Victorian lovers and their unfortunate demise through time. Do you like puzzles? Check. Do you like time travel? Double Check. What about microscopes, the Greek alphabet, morse code, hidden clues, “Lost” and creepy children’s toys? OK, well, check to any of those if applicable.
The painstakingly created production stems from the minds of five NPR employees–all with sound design and some degree of theatre experience–and features some eery and brain-teasing puzzles via headphones, ink-stained and handwritten letters, Petri dishes, projections and more. Each task, roughly inspired by an H.G. Wells tale like “The Invisible Man” or “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” unlocks another piece of the plot as it’s solved.
“The Time Machine: A Scientific Romance” is not for the mentally passive, though all are welcome; the more you participate in your team of six or smaller, the more reward you’ll get and that reward is knowledge. And time travel! You can’t lose.