Tuesday, May 28

L’Amour Du Risque – Manipulate Festival

In this show by Compagnie Bakélite, a man (show creator Olivier Rannou) is served dinner by a collection of automatised vacuum cleaners piloted off-stage by Morien Nolot. Covered in small tables equipped with everything you need for a meal, including romantic music, tablecloths, a candle and a surplus of spoons, these vacuum actors roam around the lined stage with a mixture of robotic awkwardness and occasional personality, bumping into some objects and ignoring others in their mechanical pursuit of simple functionality.

The result is a comedic and hypnotic mix of Jacques Tati and a Pixar short. We watch as these vacuum cleaners struggle with their restaurant jobs, sometimes cleverly, sometimes not, and sometimes both, under Rannou’s constant but mostly non-judgemental gaze. As the customer, he only gets to intervene when things happen in the wrong order, and by the end of the meal is little more than a paying spectator like the rest of the audience.

The show lives up to its ridiculous idea of a “ballet for robot vacuum cleaners” and, at little over half an hour, knows exactly how far to stretch this novel premise. The dexterity required to make two vacuum cleaners light a match and candle gets applause, the logistics of serving wine get a laugh, and the whole stage ends up a huge mess by the end, with food and drink wiped into the stage by a group of now non-functional hoovers. A fun and clever exploration of a silly but challenging idea, it does exactly what it says on the tin, leaving us, unlike our silent audience stand-in, nothing to complain about.

Reviewer: Oliver Giggins

Reviewed: 3rd February 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.