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Review: Books, Theatre, Albums, Movies and Gigs

La Machine: Les Mecaniques Savants

Liverpool City Centre
September 5 – September 7
Director: Nicky Webb
Producer: La Machine

Image: La Machine: Les Mecaniques Savants

Whoever thought building a fifty-foot, thirty-seven tonne spider – La Princess – that tours the city over three rain sodden days might be entertaining should surely be in therapy and whoever thought Scousers, in their tens of thousands, would ooh and ah at collective intervals, despite interminable delays and rescheduling, could be forgiven for being slightly mad. Yet this is precisely what happened and those who believed it was going to be a success and a credit to Liverpool as a whole were proved one hundred per cent correct and should be roundly applauded for their ingenuity and faith.


At a cost of £1.9 million and with rent and rates soaring, how could the Culture Company justify such expenditure on a fifty-foot, 37 tonne robot powered by a truck and twelve visible drivers? By delivering what has to be one of the most spellbinding weekends of entertainment to have ever graced the city, that’s how.

Image: La Machine: Les Mecaniques Savants 2Everything – with the exceptions of the weather, which was truly horrible on the Friday, and the lack of basic facilities such as porta-loos and refreshment stands for the wet and cold huddled masses – was magical, with thousands gathered together on the streets of the city to gaze in awe at what was ambling towards them, spitting steam and spraying water.

Young and old, rich and poor stood shoulder to shoulder, necks craning and mobile phones held aloft to capture the images, which all brought a much needed boost to the celebrations. After all, Culture year is supposed to be “For The People” and “The People” of Liverpool responded gloriously and were duly treated, free of charge, for their efforts. Now for some, standing for hours on end in the pouring rain whilst waiting for a lumbering machine manipulated by a dozen drivers, at the estimated construction cost of  £1.9 million, as it moves at approximately two miles per hour along the city’s main thoroughfares and causing delays, might not seem all that worthwhile. But these would be the same people who sit near the back at a wedding service and say with complete conviction “it’ll never last”.

Image: La Machine: Les Mecaniques Savants 3The firecracker welcome outside of the Echo Arena, La Princess’s bath in Salthouse Dock, her crawl up The Cunard Building and the gentle stroll around Derby Square, along Lord Street and up Church Street through thousands upon thousands of people, will be forever remembered and those who insist on labelling it a waste of time, money and effort should ask local retailers and hoteliers if they agree or not, let alone those in charge of advertising the city to the world at large. When else – outside of winning a football match or a Beatle coming home – has Liverpool been covered so extensively in the media when something good – which it frequently does – takes place here?

Francois Delaroziere – the creature’s creator – Artichoke’s Director, Nicky Webb, and Dominique Malan, the composer of the truly beguiling score accompanying the journey throughout, have contributed to creating truly memorable theatre that will be spoken of for years, uniting a city in awe, and I for one – a true arachnophobe – am sad to see it leave. La Princess cest magnifique. Merci beaucoup et au revoir. Big things really do happen in the North West of England and in Liverpool in particular.




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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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