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Pilot Theatre and York Theatre Royal’s The Machine Stops

Pilot Theatre - The Machine StopsAs technology evolves, humankind continues to depend more and more on the advancement of industrial science. The Machine Stops raises the question – how far will we go with our dependency on technology before a breakdown occurs?

The world premiere of E.M. Forster’s short story, The Machine Stops dives into the theory of societal dependency on technology. Adapted by Neil Duffield, this story is an intriguing prediction of our future relationship with technology. The script’s profound writing forces us to analyse our daily interactions with all forms of technology. When Vashti (Ricky Butt) receives a call from her son Kuno (Rohan Nedd), she is asked to come visit him. This would mean that Vashti would have to leave her machine behind, thus forcing her to be independent from the mechanical box she lives in. Forster’s fascinating insight on the possibilities of humankind’s total dependency on technology shines a light onto the scary reality of modern day technological reliance.

John Foxx and Benge’s music sets the tone of this play as the Machine (Maria Gray and Adam Slynn) swoops in and out of the metal framed set designed by Rhys Jarman. Philippa Vafadari’s movement direction gave the actors room to play within a confined space as they scaled the sides of the set or swung from one bar to another. The lighting design by Tom Smith gave a full sense of sunlight on Earth, as well as an eerie sense of darkness below ground. The intricate designs of every aspect of this play – lighting, sound, video, etc – along with the intense acting made this riveting play transfixing to watch as the complexity of the story unfolded.

The time is ticking for our society as we consume more and more technology, never once looking away from our screens. The Machine Stops is an eye-opener for the possibilities of what has yet to come. It is our choice to become reliant upon technology… for now.

4 stars

Review by Aly Chromy

The acclaimed production of EM Forster’s classic short story The Machine Stops, adapted for the stage by Neil Duffield and directed by Juliet Foster, now comes to Jacksons Lane. His short story masterpiece published in 1909 is astoundingly prophetic and poignant in 2017: a chilling prediction and exploration of our increasingly complex relationship with technology “You talk as if a god had made the Machine,” cried the other. “I believe that you pray to it when you are unhappy. Men made it, do not forget that.

In a dystopian world where humans have retreated far underground, Kuno alone questions their now total dependency on technology to live and communicate with each other, but in his struggle to break out can he reach the Earth’s surface before the Machine stops?

The Machine Stops
Performance Dates Tuesday 7th- Saturday 11th March 2017, 8pm
Running time 1 hour 25 minutes (no interval)
Jacksons Lane, 269a Archway Road, London N6 5AA
Box Office Tickets are available from www.jacksonslane.org.uk

Twitter @pilot_theatre @jacksons_lane, #MachineStops
Director Juliet Forster
Designer Rhys Jarman
Music John Foxx and Benge
Lighting designer Tom Smith
Movement Direction Philippa Vafadari
Kuno Rohan Nedd
Vashti Ricky Butt
Machine 2/Attendant Maria Gray
Machine 1/Passenger Adam Slynn


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