I have no idea why I went to see this show.
Every year, when the Fringe catalogue arrives, I set aside an entire evening to sit and read the theatre section, highlighting anything that looks interesting. Although, interesting isn’t perhaps the right word. I highlight shows by companies I like, subjects that interest me, or extremely-well written blurbs before coming back for a second pass to draw up a final list for reviews.
As for Passionate Machine, it wasn’t one of my highlighted shows. It wasn’t even on my reviews list. I don’t like David Bowie or Rocky or time-travel movies (all things mentioned in the show description, not just a random list of things I don’t like). But, I later found out that Rosy Carrick, writes and performs Passionate Machine, is a poet and a scholar. Hmmmm. A poet and a scholar with a PhD on Vladimir Mayakovsky. Hmmmmm. A poet and a scholar with a PhD on Vladimir Mayakovsky whose show Passionate Machine is directed by Katie Bonna of Dirty Great Love Story fame. Right, well now I absolutely must go and see this. Insight, my friends, into the basket-case decision-making process that is deciding what to review at the Fringe.
Even though it wasn’t on my original list and is replete with things I don’t really like, I’m delighted I went to see Passionate Machine. It’s a sort of performance lecture about the consequences of obsession and bad decision making and finding yourself and forgiving yourself and being your own best friend, saved utterly from the horrors of sentimental cliché by its clever and destabilising time-travelling framework, bags of wit and enormous heart.
In Rosy’s world, the definition of time travelling is generous and expansive. Sleeping is a kind of time travel (‘a very short form of cryogenic freezing’), as are movie montages and letter writing, at least when the letters are written by one’s younger self to one’s future self. By extension, reading is also a form of time travel – after all, it’s Rosy’s beloved Mayakovsky who seems to unleash an avalanche of curiosity in the subject. It’s this curiosity, and this coupling – of Mayakovsky and time travel with critical self-reflection – that enables Carrick to craft something genuinely one of a kind.
On stage, Carrick emanates warmth, intelligence, silliness and a streak of pain-in-the-assness a mile long — I couldn’t be her friend, but I’m really glad she’s here, performing this show, putting together these words in this order.
Passionate Machine is on until 27 August 2018 at Zoo Charteris. Click here for more details.