This year’s Late Night Concert is Bach: The Time Traveller, a dramatic recreation, with music, of Douglas Adams’ cult novel Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.
Adams’ obsession with Bach is well-known and it was inevitable that it would find its way into his novels. In Dirk Gently we are introduced to an alternative universe where certain things are strangely different: Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner features an asteroid, rather than an albatross, and Bach’s compositions don’t exist at all, yet.
We follow the adventures of Richard MacDuff, a software engineer and his time-travelling friend Professor Urban ‘Reg’ Chronotis. In their quest to correct a terrible mistake made billions of years ago, they travel through time to mysterious spaceships and 18th century England. Douglas Adams originally wrote the story in 1979 as a Doctor Who serial, Shada, and after the series was cancelled, adapted it as a novel.
Leading us through this brilliant tale is the actor Geoffrey McGivern, a long-time friend and colleague of Douglas Adams and the voice of Ford Prefect in the legendary Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. Music will be performed by members of the Feinstein Ensemble and Art of Moog.
In case there are still a few people out there who don’t already know the extraordinary origins of Bach’s masterpieces in the world of Dirk Gently, I will not spoil it. Instead, I will simply hint at the truth by quoting Douglas Adams himself: ‘Beethoven tells you what it’s like to be Beethoven and Mozart tells you what it’s like to be human. Bach tells you what it’s like to be the universe.’