City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

New Works: 1914 Machine, Traverse Theatre, Review

By michelle.haynes - Posted on 12 September 2014

New Works - Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Show Details
Traverse Theatre
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in collaboration with Playwrights' Studio Scotland
Clare Duffy (Writer, Paul Brotherson (Director)
Isobel McArthur (Marquise), Rebecca Murphy (The Wife), Graham Burk (Husband-He), Lynette Holmes (Goat), Matthew Seager (Duncan), Flora Sowerby (Honorourable Lady), Anne-Marie Adriansen (Kitty)
Running time: 

The fear of technology slowly taking over our lives seems to be an ever-growing theme in recent new writing. Clare Duffy’s ‘1914 Machine’ delves into just that topic albeit in a slightly different approach; transporting the audience back to the early 1900’s to delve into the future hopes and fears of a group of bohemians. Part of the ‘New Works’ collection this new play questions the necessity of touch and where we draw the line between utilising machines, and becoming one.

Centred around La Marquise and her delivery of secret war plans to the government, the audience are flown into a slightly bizarre bohemian dinner party. As drinks begin to flow, cocaine is liberally shared, love affairs are discovered and conversations look to the future questioning whether machines are a threat to humanity as we know it or a fast track to true freedom.

Thrusting the audience into the action the opening movement scene that physicalizes the plane is superbly directed and executed, creating humour whilst capturing the essence of the era. This continues throughout the show with all movement sequences nearly flawless providing slick set changes, snaps in and out of scenes, and the quick and subtle change of character. The script is clever, paralleling the fears of 1914 to today, discussing choice, voting, evolution and ultimately the line between man and machine and what qualities make us human.

Flora Sowerby as ‘Honourable Lady’ is a particular asset to the play, playing up to the rich ‘lady-of-the-manor’ stereotype perfectly and adding a large amount of humour to the piece, whilst Matthew Seager really comes into his own at the end playing the part of the now 100 year old son of Husband-He and The Wife. The end scene particularly hits home, questioning whether society is losing control to technology, satirising both our current and future life.

‘1914 Machine’ is a witty, hilarious and yet unnerving premonition of what might await us in the future. When we no longer need to touch the machine, and instead can be the machine, does that mean we will have truly achieved ultimate freedom?

Runs 11-13th September, 8pm.