The doors to the theatre closed and the room darkened, leaving behind the summer-party feel of The Warren enclave. Rosy Carrick emerged, casually dressed, with a wheelie suitcase in tow. The music playing was an uplifting 80’s track, and a subtle nostalgia set in. Visuals came and went as the one-woman show began.
It was to be an unexpected story covering everything from CERN to Aberystwyth. As Carrick unpacked her suitcase and family history, important dates and anecdotes started to be shared. The story began with a little girl dressed in a woolly hat, sending letters to her future self. As the evening continued, her storytelling expertise drew the audience further in. The details of important moments were intertwined with something quite fantastic: time travel. Relevant pop culture references were also brought to mind through a comedic dressing up, making sure the story continued as a narrative through both our imaginations and our hearts. The most striking moments were when she shared her pain, the ‘big’ decisions and events. The things we can’t control or change. But also, the not so big ones which make all the difference. The best friend who compiled pictures of your hangover selfies and sent them to you. That kind of friend. It was exciting to see a woman explore and elevate her non-glamourous self, questioning our reaction, reminding me of the idea that TV becomes shocking if it looks like real-life.
The most captivating theme and, perhaps, the social importance of Passionate Machine, can be found in its depiction of family and womanhood. The play was refreshing, emotional and wonderfully crafted. In one moment, Carrick was serious as she addressed the audience, telling us to read poet Vladimir Mayakovsky – not just read him but read everything he ever wrote. Her research into him had informed the play, her doctorate and a subsequent publication, as well as resulting in a close relationship with Mayakovsky’s daughter. It told us something about following your passion. Poetry can seem deeply unfashionable and yet it is interweaved into our past, present and future. It names feelings and emotions and gives us a sense of ourselves we are unable to speak. It is the word of protest and through this brief glimpse into the life of the Russian poet, Carrick demonstrated its importance. It was transfixing.