The Great-great-grandson of H G Wells has made an extraordinary discovery.

Rummaging through papers in the Victorian family home, he has found a photo of the 2023 World Cup winners and a ticket to a Take That concert - proof that H G hadn’t just written about time travel, but had built a working time machine.

Dave Hearn, a founding member of Mischief Theatre Company which brought us the Goes Wrong... genre, plays the then and now Wells in Steven Canny and John Nicholson's madcap, irreverent take on the classic tale.

Ham & High: Amy Revelle in The Time Machine at Park TheatreAmy Revelle in The Time Machine at Park Theatre (Image: Manuel Harlan)

It comes with a dollop of audience participation (and dress up), at least one stooge, and some good old-fashioned improvisation. As Dave gleefully describes it, The Time Machine, The Comedy is “Two hours of utter nonsense”.

Michael Dylan is a gullible, excitable idiot, and Amy Revelle a hysteric with a Cher habit as actors putting on an anarchic version of Wells' story, a play within a play that is awash with energy, silliness and the sheer joy and exuberance of theatre.

The Finsbury Parkers (as Dave calls the audience) were whipped into a mass of whooping idiots and loved every minute.

Ham & High: Amy Revelle and Michael Dylan in The Time MachineAmy Revelle and Michael Dylan in The Time Machine (Image: Manuel Harlan)

But (there are plenty of buts) the work is intensely derivative. Dave is a straightforward rip off of Red Dwarf’s Arnold Rimmer: pompous, defensive, patronising and thick-skinned.

Several films have been burgled for ideas: there are echoes of Zelig and a lifting of Buster Keaton’s falling house-wall gag. Some of the punchlines can be seen coming from Manor House.

Then there are the characteristic missed cues, failed props, contrived disappointment, studied foolishness, disproportionate hysteria, and tenderness shattered by brutishness.

It's brilliantly written with skilful physical comedy, and the audience of all ages absolutely loved it. As with a panto, they knew what was going to happen and were delighted when their expectations were confirmed.

Perhaps the biggest but is that the whole genre is not everyone's cup of tea. If you love it, buy a ticket now, if not, this may be one to avoid.

The Time Machine - A Comedy runs at Park Theatre until December 30.