Theater archives

machines machines machines machines machines machines machines


Many a playhouse offers dinner theater, but Here has cornered the market on breakfast drama. During machines machines machines machines machines machines machines—a performance piece by Geoff Sobelle, Quinn Bauriedel, and Trey Lyford—the three actors serve up coffee, orange juice, cereal, fruit, eggs, and toast. The audience joins in their repast: An egg ends up on a viewer’s shoe; pieces of banana zoom into the seats. (People in the first row may wish to don a full-body bib.)

While making breakfast, the characters rarely touch the food. They rely on a system of wires, pulleys, buckets, balls, wheels, and a boxing glove to do the cooking for them. This explains much of the mess and muddle. Machines concerns three men—a would-be robot, a Shakespearean Scot, and a Jimmy Stewart impersonator—who lock themselves away from the world in anticipation of some outside threat. Though isolated, they enjoy every modern convenience—and some postmodern ones, too—and have developed various contraptions to accomplish ordinary tasks such as ironing, toothbrushing, and petting the cat. (Artists Steven and Billy Blaise Dufala are responsible for these screwball assemblages.) The play is like a Rube Goldberg drawing come to life, except that most of Goldberg’s drawings look as if they might work, and most of machines‘ machines do not. Sobelle told Paper magazine that the various engines do work—about 20 percent of the time.

Still, it is marvelous to watch the devices in action, and equally marvelous to watch the men improvise when the devices fail. (Lyford and Sobelle previously demonstrated their gift for physical comedy in All Wear Bowlers; Bauriedel is no slouch, either.) The play’s content doesn’t bear too much contemplation: machines seems intended as a satire of the Bush years, a time when the population worried over external enemies and ignored domestic misconduct. But that’s beside the point. Much better to goggle at the hard hat, blowdryer, and plastic lobster dangling from the ceiling and wonder how they might soon be deployed. As Bauriedel’s character insists, “This is not a time for thinking—this is a time for doing!” Then he activates another disastrous apparatus.