Monday 20 June 2022

Radio Play The Machine Stops

E.M.Forster wrote The Machine Stops as a counterblast to Mr. H.G. Wells, who tells us that the future will be heaven, that science will lead us to a miraculous Promised Land. Forster was not so sure. So he wrote the story.

Released On: 19 Jun 2022 Available for 29 days

Tamsin Greig stars in EM Forster's prescient vision of a world population living in isolated underground rooms, utterly dependent on technology. Philip Franks adapts this 1909 story into an eerie 'steampunk' journey through a world of fractured people, reliant on The Machine.

It still feels like a warning of things to come.

Existing in bunkers and communicating only through screens, the population has become neurotic and compliant, unaware that The Machine has taken complete control from its human inventors. Communication is via screen only and daily activity is largely confined to gossip, the sharing of ideas and a form of 'knowledge', itself electronically controlled and manipulated by The Machine. Then it begins to break down.

Tamsin Greig plays Vashti, a lecturer in the history of music, specialising in the Late Australian Period (Forster does retain a sense of humour). Her world is turned on its head by her son Kuno (played by Tok Stephen) when he says he has visited the surface and met people living up there. Vashti worships The Machine, her son wants to escape its grip. Their journey, as the all embracing structure collapses, brings them closer together, and eventually to the realisation that mankind's only future is in shared humanity and a connection to nature - then and only then perhaps a ruined planet can be rebuilt.

In 1909, EM Forster took a break from linen suits, big hats and unrequited love among the upper classes, and wrote a story which predicts - among other things - globalisation, the Internet, zoom, algorithms, social isolation and climate crisis.

Cast: Tamsin Greig, Sarah Lawrie, Alana Ramsey, Veronica Roberts, Wilf Scolding, Tok Stephen, John Wark

Adapted/ Directed by Philip Franks Produced by David Morley A Perfectly Normal production for BBC Radio 4 ... ???

NOTE: Excellent discussion material about 'The Mess We're In'. Comments please? Notes to follow.

SEE ALSO: The Machine Stops article in New View, Issue 88, Autumn 2018