The Roundhouse marks a very special edition of CircusFest, celebrating 250 years of circus as a modern art form, kicking things off with Pirates of the Carabina’s latest show, one that unfortunately fails to live up to such a special occasion.

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Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine follows a collection of disparate city dwellers and their misadventures, growing to know each other and explore their own creativity in a series of vignettes.

Director James Williams and the company are clearly innovators, but their execution isn’t always perfect in the things that should be fun, such as performers wrestling ropes like they’re fighting giant spaghetti, which often ends up feeling limp, slack, and repetitive. There are funny and generally impressive moments, but the slow start and moments in between more exciting sections stick out uncomfortably.

The use of everyday objects, such as typewriters to create a percussive beat to a song, or balancing on beer bottles is interesting, but the veneer wears thin and soon feels gimmicky. More interesting is the use of music and how almost every performer plays music in some form on stage. The stage set up features steel scaffolding, a spinning carousel, and a staircase, but fails to look attractive, fill the cavernous space that is the main arena of the Roundhouse, or create any sort of atmosphere.

Another major gripe is that the marketing of the show (check the poster) suggests a steam punk vibe and industrial premise that is never quite evident. Some may be disappointed that the performers aren’t running around on cogs and leaping between heavy machinery, but most viewers will simply be satisfied by the tightrope walker balancing on chairs perched on beer bottles.

For some, this will be an entertaining evening of circus that will tick boxes for CircusFest, for others this will be a show that lacks substance, a machine that needs oiling. 3/5

Review written by Evan Parker.

Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine is currently showing until Sunday 15th April 2018 at the Roundhouse as past of CircusFest 2018. To find out more about the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop