Review: Playbox's celebration of speed opens up a new dimension in performance

Playbox Theatre drew upon the expertise of Petronas Motorsport in developing their show

Nick Le Mesurier reviews Formula X, presented by Playbox Theatre at the Dream Factory, Warwick

Formula X plays with the notion that there really isn’t much difference between theatre and sport: each seeks to involve the audience in the action, to identify with the conflicts, and relies heavily on the physical prowess of the performers. To explore the relationships Playbox has turned their marvellous performance space into a Formula One race track. Here we have teams of ‘cars’ racing around a figure of eight, we have grandstands, we have pit-stops and control booths. Above all we have speed. Formula X is a celebration of speed.

What we don’t have is a play in any conventional sense. There are no characters, no dialogue, no plot, save the implied round of events in exotic places and the search for an ultimate winner. Rather, the action is a montage of effects reflecting the thrills of the race track created by the live performers, music and film. Circus skills and gymnastics are at the heart of this show, as the large ensemble thunder round the track on roller skates or on segways and perform spectacular acrobatics high above the audience on ropes and hoops.

Playbox Theatre drew upon the expertise of Petronas Motorsport in developing their show. I have no doubt the performers and the race team benefitted hugely from the collaboration. The result is a show that is often beautiful in its execution, as the intricate manoeuvres of the high powered cars on the track are beautiful. It opens up a new dimension in performance, and if it’s not quite what you’d expect from a theatre company, well the one thing you can expect from Playbox is the unexpected.

* Formula X runs until September 30. Call 419555 to book.

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