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Review: Passionate Machine at Draper Hall

Review: Passionate Machine at Draper Hall

When I tried – very enthusiastically – to describe Rosy Carrick’s Passionate Machine to my manager the next day at work… I made a real bloody mess of it. Which bodes excellently well for this review. The plot is so intricate and clever, such a complex meshing of the real and the fictional, that I ended up getting hopelessly tangled in the labyrinth of my own description.

Which, I ought to say, the play itself does not. By the end of the show, every twist and turn had been explained and beautifully tied up in a heartwarmingly straightforward conclusion. So – if you’ll forgive me – I’m just going to give you the bare bones of the plot itself and then move straight on to fangirling all over how much I enjoyed it.

CREDIT: Sharon Kilgannon

CREDIT: Sharon Kilgannon

“’Remember PE kit. Cancel free trial. Call mum. Everyone writes instructions to their future selves. But what happens if the future starts writing back?

Rosy Carrick has to build a time machine – because her future self has already done so and is now stuck 100 years in the past after a failed mission to save Russian revolutionary poet Vladimir Mayakovsky from committing suicide. Given that her knowledge of quantum physics is limited to the works of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rosy must summon the help of science’s greatest minds if she is to rewrite history and save herself…”

See? Bet that’s cleared the question of what this show is about right up!

First things first: this was an absolutely lovely show. Gorgeously crafted, clever and uplifting, it is a deeply original take on autobiography, unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Carrick, a writer, performer, and world expert on the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, is hugely charismatic, I liked her instinctively. After watching her show, I wanted to:

·         Be her friend

·         Buy her book

·         Spend the best part of an afternoon frantically Googling Mayakovsky to learn all about him

CREDIT: Sharon Kilgannon

CREDIT: Sharon Kilgannon

The show covers all elements of her life, from troubles with bad men and worse hangovers, to her obsession with time travel films, to her friendship with Mayakovsky’s daughter Yelena, who she tracked down in New York and – her words, not mine – forced to be her friend. Throughout the show, she refers to herself as an accomplished stalker, but with Yelena it struck me more as a brave, boundless enthusiasm we could all do with a little more of.

And it is this theme throughout the play – an insatiable enthusiasm for sci-fi, for David Bowie, for Mayakovsky, for life – that I took away from it.

Besides the warm fuzziness of the plot and the protagonist, the production was slick, hitting every cue perfectly, and the whole play extremely professional, even in the small (and oddly hot) space of the Draper Hall. Carrick wasn’t even thrown off when someone’s phone rang really loudly. Tut fucking tut.

So yeh – go see a Passionate Machine, and expect a polished, smart, heartbreaking and heartwarming show. It’s on for one last night tonight at Draper Hall in Elephant and then it’ll be touring the country, so keep an eye out. 

CREDIT: John Preece, courtesy Camera Obscura Edinburgh

CREDIT: John Preece, courtesy Camera Obscura Edinburgh

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Interview with Toyah Willcox

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