Letchworth Theatre opens!

Letchworth Theatre opens!

Letchworth Theatre opens!

On the 22nd February, The SandPit Theatre took an outing to see Letchworth Broadway open their first dramatic season as a theatre! The wonderful Art Deco cinema has now joined us in the world of theatre, with its first offering being The Machine Stops by Pilot Theatre. A fantastic production, followed by intriguing post show discussion, was welcomed by the local community.

The story follows a dystopian society, where the human race has moved underground due to poor conditions on the earth's surface, with limited oxygen and sparse vegetation. We now live within 'The Machine' - individual honeycomb shaped pods which deliver all amenities to their inhabitant. The narrative follows a middle-aged female lecturer, swaddled comfortably as she delivers her lectures via video conferencing. Second-hand ideas and intellectual criticism are encouraged, travel and parental duties are not. However, Vashti (the lecturer) does keep in contact with her son, Kuno, via their skype-like communications system. Kuno is a free-thinker, who does not value the Machine as the rest of humanity does. We follow Vashti's eventual journey to visit her son, and as suggested by the ominous title, the eventual breakdown of society as Kuno predicts, 'the Machine is stopping'. If you would like to see how the story unfolds, it is available to read at http://archive.ncsa.illinois.edu/prajlich/forster.html.

Pilot Theatre Company offers an incredibly engaging and physical production, which is effective at creating an important juxtaposition of human contact versus isolation. The Machine is embodied by two actors, whom rely on each others strength and counter-balance to manoeuvre the fantastic metal structure which makes up the set, bringing The Machine to life with fluid and powerful movements to create the connection of cables and monotonous announcements. This presentation of a powerful, connected machine is in stark contrast to the weak Vashti, barely able to walk as she rarely leaves her chair. It is beautifully ironic that a machine which has caused humans to disregard human touch, heavily depends on physical connections.  The set they manoeuvre appears first like a literal honeycomb structure pod, however upon later reflection (and confirmed by the cast in the post-show discussion), it is in fact modeled upon the shape of constellations. The natural wonder that Kuno feels when he first sees the stars is in fact hardened all around him.

It is an aesthetically beautiful production, with a wonderful ensemble performance, held with pace and unpredictability that encourages you to question the status quo. I would highly recommend seeing the production on tour if you can. Even moreso, I would recommend visiting the Letchworth Broadway Theatre, as it is a lovely venue with a lots of character and plenty of exciting new shows to offer. Listings available here: https://www.broadway-letchworth.com/theatre.

Full review available at http://charliwallis.wixsite.com/theatre/single-post/The-Machine-Stops.

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