The Winston Machine at New Diorama Theatre
Multi award-winning theatre production company Kandinsky aim to create exciting new work, devised and performed the same team. Performed by three actors on a minimally designed, slightly tilted stage, The Winston Machine is one such piece, endeavouring to reach into the nation’s psyche.
At its focal point, the play attempts to create discourse around the themes of nationalism, patriotism and nostalgia. Becky (Rachel-Leah Hosker) admires the 1940s, when her grandfather fought during the Second World War. She sings in the annual Festival of Remembrance, commemorating the war effort, while trying to work through her feelings, or lack thereof, for her boyfriend, played by Hamish MacDougall. As she traverses these waters, her schoolfriend Lewis (Nathan Christian) re-enters her life. Their shared chemistry is palpable, and the new romantic interest makes Becky re-evaluate her feelings.
In another interwoven storyline is Becky’s grandmother, Charlotte (also played by Hosker), who is in love with a young Spitfire pilot (double-roled by Christian). As The Winston Machine begins with this scene, it seems as if it will be a play within a play, but this notion is soon deconstructed.
Like Kandinsky productions in the past, The Winston Machine is experimental at its core and not what one might expect. For those who are anticipating something with more flair, a bigger cast and stage design, it might come as a disappointment. The back-and-forth nature of the show is not only very confusing, but makes it difficult to remain engaged with the narrative; even the most seasoned thespians will struggle to follow, particularly when the cast talk over each other, depicting average things in life such as scrolling on social media.
A point of note though is the cast, whose performances are all credible – Hosker’s singing is especially striking. But overall, due to there being only limited performers on stage, all taking on various roles, there is an element of chaos, and messy storytelling is what comes to mind (rather than the “unmissable” and “epic” descriptions the play has received elsewhere).
Photo: Cesare Di Giglio
The Winston Machine is at New Diorama Theatre from 25th January until 19th February 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the production here: