Cabaret Mechanical Theatre aboard the MS Stubnitz

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Cabaret Mechanical Theatre aboard the MS Stubnitz
'Hopping Jackal' by Paul Spooner
This exhibition brings together a selection of the funny, quirky and sometimes downright barmy contemporary automata and performing machines which for 15 years, between 1985 and 2000, were to be found in the hugely popular Cabaret Mechanical Theatre exhibition in Covent Garden’s Apple Market. Since rising rents on that atmospheric basement space became unaffordable the collection has had a variety of homes but it returns regularly to London at Christmas to charm new audiences. The display of moving machines invites viewers to press buttons or turn handles and thus bring to life machines including Paul Spooner’s Man in a bath of Spaghetti and Martin Smith’s ingenious ‘Fish’, in which a pair of bright orange painted fish swim realistically with the use of ratchet and gears. Accompanying the exhibition is a one-day introduction to automata-making (Sun Dec 15, 10am-4pm; £9) and a mechanical art workshop for families ( Fri Dec 27, 2-4pm; £12.50 per family kit; age five-plus).


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Jim K

I was excited about this exhibition, having fond memories of visiting the one in Covent Garden as a child. However I was very disappointed - there were only a handful of small machines, not at all like the larger exhibition that I was expecting. The £5 entrance fee is incredibly steep. It only took a couple of minutes to see the whole exhibition. For the price and the limited models on display, it is not worth the journey to Canary Wharf.