Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
The Public Reviews Rating:
Direct from the Blue Elephant Theatre, the irreverent Machines For Living is strangely engaging, strangely enjoyable, and sometimes just downright strange. A play that looks at the well-meaning but somewhat naïve attempts in the 50s to create affordable social housing that would look good both architecturally and socially. Ultimately these aims failed and the high-rises became a magnet for crime and antisocial behaviour, but this play looks at the architects’ early aspirations and the crushing nature of reality over hope.
Architects Wendy (India Banks) and Roger (David Ralfe) get together and eventually marry after meeting at a talk Wendy was giving on the joys of concrete. The two are like-minded, and inspired by Le Corbusier’s work on Brutalism take on the new housing project. Feeling so confident that the new flats will be a joy to live in the couple move in, but five years on everything – including their relationship – is starting to come apart at the seams.
Mixing their considerable physical skills with stylised characterisation and a cleverly designed multifunctional set, the story is certainly clear. Created by the LeCoq-trained cast of four the movement in the piece is precise, and the use of mostly monochrome colour for set and costumes add to the uniformity. Despite these positives, there are sections which are overlong, particularly some protracted movement scenes that contributed little in terms of plot development. Nessa Norich is the star of the show, absolutely hilarious in her several roles, but the caricatures that she and Frode Gjerlow are playing do have the potential to upstage the more mundane central characters which they need to be careful of. Despite being very watchable it is sometimes difficult to work out where the piece is coming from, but it will be interesting to see where Let Slip Theatre are going to.
Until 27th AugustEdinburgh Fringe: Machines For Living – Zoo,