Brighton Fringe Review: Passionate Machine

As a child Rosy Carrick wrote charming and encouraging letters to her future self. Now, as a 30-something poet with a daughter of her own, she discovers that her future self is writing back – from 90 years in the past. Thus begins an endearing and compelling time travel adventure that sees Rosy revisiting her life’s passions while attempting to build a machine that will allow her to save herself from history. But which Rosy is in need of rescue?

Delivered as a spoken word monologue with occasional props, songs and video sequences, this intricately plotted yarn blends fact and fantasy in such a way as to leave you picking at the threads hours after. Much of it is true, but even the fictional elements are tied together with a kind of deadpan subtlety. The time machine conceit is partly an excuse for a whimsical ride through pop culture and partly a vehicle for confessional reflections on life and love, heartbreak and hangovers.

Rosy Carrick will be known to many in Brighton as one of the hosts of the annual Poets Vs MCs spoken word battle, but this show is her first departure from poetry into theatre. She’s also written a PHD about the revolutionary Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky and published two books about his work. The depth of her obsession with this maverick Soviet writer becomes evident when the show’s plot points begin to turn on her real-life relationship with Mayakovsky’s daughter Yelena, an American philosopher whose true parentage was kept a secret until the 90s. The web of historical and personal connections also incorporates recurrent references to Albert Einstein, David Bowie and Arnold Schwarzenegger – as well as her best mate James.

With all the suspense of a detective story, Passionate Machine unfolds into an illuminating journey that finds our protagonist facing down her own past and future. Though the route takes a few dark turns, there are some good laughs along the way. Rosy is self-deprecating even in the act of self-discovery, and her rapid-fire performance is flawless. The show has already been shortlisted for an award and it’s heading to Edinburgh this summer, so it seems her future self might well have something else to write home about.

The Warren: The Blockhouse, Monday 21st May 2018
Returns 23rd May

Reviews 3 months old

Ben Bailey

Ben Bailey runs the SOURCE website and was formerly the listings and reviews editor on the magazine. As well as writing stuff for other publications he also finds the time to play in various bands and once came 4th place in a BMX tournament.

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