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Passionate Machine review at Zoo Charteris, Edinburgh – ‘creatively fuses science fiction and autobiography’

Rosy Carrick in Passionate Machine. Photo: Sharon Kilgannon Rosy Carrick in Passionate Machine. Photo: Sharon Kilgannon

In The Bathhouse, a satirical play by the Russian Futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, the protagonist builds a time machine. Time travel also features in Rosy Carrick’s debut fringe show. She weaves together her obsession with Mayakovsky – his work was the basis for her PhD and she befriended his elderly daughter – with a narrative about trying to build a time machine of her own so she can go back to the 1920s and visit the poet before his death at the age 36. She meets a scientist online who she hopes to be able to assist her and prepares herself by dressing like a cross between the Terminator and Marty McFly.

These fantastical elements are deployed in the service of a story that’s also about the potent idea of being able to communicate with our younger selves, emboldening us to make better decisions, to be kinder to ourselves. An act of future-proofing.

Carrick’s a confident performer, warm, sometimes a bit silly, and Katie Bonna’s production effectively uses video montage to enhance her storytelling. Though the show elegantly and efficiently knits together the various threads of the story by the end, the mixture of autobiography and science fiction, and the detours via CERN, don’t add up to a completely cohesive w(orm)hole. But while it isn’t always totally satisfying in narrative terms, it remains engaging, seeding the idea that we are all time travellers, part of a continuum, connected to Mayakovsky via his daughter, to the future via her own daughter.

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Intriguing solo show that creatively fuses science fiction and autobiography