Any show that relies heavily on audience participation is going to struggle with an audience as small as the one Shahar Marom had for Tuesday’s early morning performance. While audience participation is nothing new at Fringe, Marom is doing something very different from most shows. His one-man performance centres around machines he has created to answer humanity’s most pressing questions; spectators are required to interact with the machines in order to make them work. Marom tried hard with what he had: a tiny audience, some of whom were disinclined to engage with the show in the way he desired.
While the concept is intriguing, the show failed to open my eyes to any of the answers I think Marom was trying to illuminate. Quirky though his machines may be, few of them really deliver anything interesting. The ‘laughter machine’ is lacklustre; Marom tries to recreate the slipping-on-banana-peel gag, but misses the mark with his slow-motion rise to upside-down suspension. The banana-peel-slip requires speed, flailing arms, cartoon-esque clumsiness: sluggish, clunking cables erode any potential for humour. The purpose of the wheelchair-keyboard machine and the ceramic head that got smashed to pieces eluded me entirely.
On a more positive note, Marom’s range of accents is decent, and his accordion playing is impressive - the quirky instrument suits him. There is a skit where he learns to sing and play accordion from a pre-recorded projection of himself - this is interesting, at least, and, with better pacing and more energy, has the makings of a good segment.
I appreciate what Marom is trying to do, and admire his courage in doing something so unconventional. If you can’t try this stuff at Fringe, where can you try it?
Machine Man Spectacle is on at varying times at Hill Street Theatre until August 27th. For more information, or to book tickets, please visit the EdFringe website