Off the beaten track of Fringe venues, and unique among shows at this year’s festival, Nick Wade presents a one man verse-play in which he struggles to serve the Great Machine.

Wade enters the stage before the show properly begins, and during the preshow music establishes the slow, mechanical movements that will form the backbone of the script and acting throughout this production. It is a spare, repetitive, and stylized sort of movement that lends itself well to the theme and content of the show, even if it is not the most ensnaring thing to watch. This is part of the point: the Great Machine is an incredibly dull entity to serve, and the audience experiences this through Wade’s actions. Nevertheless, with a few more directorial tweaks, it might be possible to convey this same sense of monotony in a slightly more evocative manner. More unique elements of movement, like when climbing the mountain (which was fascinating), or showing his growth into adulthood, would also help to accomplish this.
The tech is a thoroughly integral highlight of this production. Designed by Lewis Caunter and Emily Soussana, it features digital animations, vivid and disturbing soundscapes, and does an excellent job of generally conjuring the world depicted in Wade’s poem. There was a small computer glitch in the performance I saw, but Wade ignored it with such success that it was almost irrelevant, and the projections returned to their proper place before long.
The verse itself is very interesting, employing elements of the poetics of performance poetry while fitting into and reprising through performance the canonical themes of post-industrial poetry. In other words, it features vivid bleak imagery, frequent internal rhyme, and a rhythmic cadence that suggests monotony without actually being monotonous. There were a couple of lines that felt like they were forcing their rhymes, but in general, it holds up very well as a poem and as a script for performance.
If you’re not turned off by the thought of a performance in verse (and why should you be?), check out The Sink at the Tea Party this week.

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