Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine – 5 Stars


Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine

Camden Roundhouse

Reviewed – 5th April 2018


“effortless and joyful, with moments of childlike wonder and some truly memorable set pieces”


Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine is the latest show from Pirates of the Carabina, a company that specialises in ‘theatrical, highly technical circus with a very strong live music ethos.’ It is also the opening show in the Roundhouse’s CircusFest.

The performance is wonderfully gripping, with moments of comedy and vignettes of relationships interspersed among the flying, spinning thrills of the circus. This is circus for today. There are no glittering leotards, red-nosed clowns or blustering ring masters. Instead we have an ensemble of incredible performers and multi-talented musicians. We see how the performers rise and drop on the ropes and silks, counter-balanced by the strong woman and man who climb up and down the structures with incredible speed. It’s like seeing the ballet behind the skill, the people on the spinning ropes twinned with their partners, safe in their strong hands.

Here we have trapeze, hoops, tightrope and some fantastic clowning. James Williams’ direction has skillfully moulded all the elements into what feels like a surreal series of small stories, so that we really want the, apparently incompetent, tightrope walker to succeed, the ’drunk’ girl to manage to climb the stairs. The performers have well developed characters, and they also join the musicians, singing and playing instruments. The lighting, designed by James Loudon, is evocative and beautiful, especially in the build up to the finale, and Barnz Munn’s set design is a marvel of flexible elements, moved and repurposed by the performers throughout the show. Music also plays an important part, with original music, composed by Meg Ella, James Williams and the Company, being more than just a backdrop to the action.

The whole thing seems effortless and joyful, with moments of childlike wonder and some truly memorable set pieces. The first hoop performance made me think of the iconic 1923 ‘Girl in the Moon’ photograph, and the antics on the ‘very temperamental staircase’ had the audience howling with laughter.

I do wonder why the show is called ‘Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine.’ The title had me expecting a driving mechanical feel, not the lovely, playful, gentle joy of the evening. This is a very human circus that will sweep you along with all the thrills that you expect, and wrap you in a magical world for the evening.

The performers are Meg Ella, Jack Rees, Shaena Brandel, Ellis Grover, Seren Corrigan, Eric Mcgill, Barnz Munn, Jade Dunbar, Alfie Horn and Alik Peters-Deacon.They all deserve mention here, a truly talented ensemble.


Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Ollie Millington


Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine

Camden Roundhouse until 15th April



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