We have all wished we could travel back in time at some point in our lives. Whether it’s for nostalgia, to prevent an event from happening, or to verify truth in our history. In Dr Rosy Carrick’s case, she needs to build a time machine to save her future self, who is stuck 100 years in the past in the year 1930. With very limited knowledge of quantum physics, she summons the help of science’s greatest minds if she is to rewrite history and save herself.
After securing huge success at the Brighton Fringe last year, award-winning Passionate Machine returns to Brighton on its UK tour this spring. Rosy’s concept for the show endeavours to combine a geeky sci-fi adventure with deeply personal mission for salvation: “It’s ostensibly about my own experience, which means when it gets to these parts when you think ‘surely this can’t be true’. It leaves that question in the audience’s minds – hopefully!”
Coming from a creative background of poetry and compering at festivals, Rosy initially feared the prospect of learning from a script: “I was so terrified about having to learn something. At the start of the process, every time I thought about it I just couldn’t stop crying.” Her struggles were quickly soothed with advice from the show’s director, Katie Bonna.
A heavy focus for the show analyses how her fascinations with men had led to deep and powerful relationships with her various ‘selves’. One man featured in Passionate Machine who constantly weaves in and out of the story is David Bowie. Rosy attributes responsibility to Bowie for the birth of her daughter after missing her English A Level exam to see him at Glastonbury on the Sunday night. After going through clearing, Rosy attended a different university as planned – which is where she became pregnant with her daughter. Rosy said: “It’s about how deep obsessions with this guy at a time of turmoil led to me developing this relationship with another now young woman: my daughter.”
A second figure who has greatly impacted her life was the Russian Revolutionary poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky. With a PhD under her wing and author to two published translations of his work, it was clear Mayakovsky dominated her creative process. She described how she became very good friends with his daughter: “I found out her story with her father, who she barely met, and who killed himself, and this whole mythology that exists behind him. As much or more about my relationship with her as it with him.”
Her performance was also sparked from a place of truth within herself, most notably when discussing her encounter of rape. “I talk about having been raped, having a jury’s decision of not guilty and what it means to have that experience, and have other people say ‘no, I don’t think that happened’”.
In a growing cultural climate striving to improve victim support in the UK, Passionate Machine was the first time Rosy felt she could talk about her experience publicly. “I realised when I was writing that it all boils down to this moment of feeling completely abandoned by a structure that was supposed to support you.” Her show at The Old Market has been scheduled into the venue’s Reigning Women mini-season, which will be raising money for Brighton Women’s Centre.
She forms an intricately shaped narrative combining her curiosity in Mayakovsky, time travel films, and self-discovery: “I’m showing all my ‘uncool’ sides, I guess, and making it a more intimate picture of what it is to be inside my brain.” At the heart of the performance, Passionate Machine is a very intimate account of one woman’s mission to find herself, in both a literal and a figurative sense.
Dr Rosy Carrick will perform Passionate Machine as part of the ‘Reigning Women’ mini-season at The Old Market on Sun 17 Mar.