A Machine to See With

Sat 27th August – Thu 29th September 2011

reviews

David Knowles

at 11:12 on 27th Aug 2011

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‘Your eyes are a machine to see with, your ears are a machine to hear with.’ This is but one of the terrifying yet totally immersive instructions the automated ‘machine’ gave me while walking through the middle of Edinburgh with a borrowed phone pressed to my ear watching the crowd swirling past me. Who was on my side? Who could be a contact, who a member of the security services; the man with the red jumper who just held my gaze for a moment? The mother with her twins in a pram walking past chatting on the phone? The old gentleman in the smoking jacket hobbling with his stick?

A Machine to See With is utterly fascinating. The audience becomes the actor and the real world is the set. Receiving instructions through a borrowed phone one progresses through Edinburgh paying close attention to the precise instructions of the ‘machine’ before reaching the bank which you are to rob. You have to answer detailed personality questions, meet contacts and plan escapes if everything goes wrong. This incredible piece of theatre makes the audience question their fundamental values and makes one see the world in a completely new light. The only thing I can possibly compare this to is the opening scene in the first Matrix film. Which is obviously amazing.

That is not to say that there are not some problems with this piece, the action can be sparse and sometimes it does feel rather like an extended walking tour of the prettier parts of Edinburgh. However the innovation of the show, the sheer brilliance of the idea and the fascinating introspection it encourages carry the day completely in my opinion. Go and experience this show, you must, it completely embodies the values of invention and skill and is a wonderful gem of the fringe.

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