The Heresy Machine

The Heresy Machine, by Seth Majnoon, claims to be about Alan Turing. The “queer cyborg lovestory” features Turing, his computer and a mysterious woman who seemed to have no reason for being onstage.

Pretentious, unnecessarily academic and elitist.

There was almost no connection to the imprisoned historical figure, who was American according to Marc Sinoway’s interpretation. This was a shame; I came to learn more about such a fascinating and, until recently, unacknowledged man. The play should have stuck with it’s avant-garde “post-gender” and “posthuman” self-imposed labels, and made a love story only about a person and a robot.

I was lost for almost the entirety of the hour. Although the writer might have some grand (and perhaps eloquent) explanation for what on earth was going on, the audience seemed no wiser. If avant-garde theatre at the festival now entails pretentious, unnecessarily academic and elitist writing, I know I’m not interested.

Even the physicist who fell asleep sitting next to me wouldn’t have cared to explain the plot. Who was the strange girl who seemed to have no clear function in the story? Why was she talking as if she was in A Midsummer Night's Dream? What was she trying to achieve? I still have no idea. Perhaps I gave up trying to find out.

The piece touched on a theological objection regarding whether a robot could have a soul. This refocussed my attention which then soon fizzled out again. Nonetheless, considering the diabolical play these actors were thrust into, their performances were strong and I enjoyed watching the robot move in sync to accompanying electronic music.

Majnoon’s writing might have been awful but his choreography was good. This made the piece just about watchable and at times comprehensible through a visual language that made up for the inaccessible scientific-speak.

Despite this, the play is undoubtedly one to avoid, whether you’re interested in Turing or not. It was indeed ‘weird’ and ‘experimental’ but was equally devoid of any meaning whatsoever.

Reviews by William Leckie

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The Blurb

'Darling sweetheart, you are my avid fellow feeling. My affection curiously clings to your passionate wish. My liking yearns for your heart. You are my wistful sympathy: my tender liking. Yours beautifully, Manchester University Computer.' <3 ;-] A queer love story between mathematician Alan Turing and his computer creation; an original machine-ballet from five-star international collective §175.

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