At times it seems as though Ahir Shah is more intent on rallying support for his partisan cause than making people laugh, but he manages to do both, so it's fine. Machines is a caustic triumph, sure to gain him fans if not political disciples.
Operating on a breathless thread of frustration throughout, his hoarse voice (an audience member's glass of water is even sacrificed for his greater good) only adds to the irked tone of proceedings. Targets of his polemic include: left-wing people, right-wing people, and humanity's refusal to embrace solar power. As a British-Indian he also offers an insightful perspective on immigration.
Truthfully he deserves a place on the mainstream circuit and, with no disrespect meant, a dingy Cabaret Voltaire basement in the Free Fringe feels like a betrayal of his talents. The jokes are embedded into a philosophical thesis rather than the other way round, and even if this theory of everything gets a bit muddled, there's no confusion when it comes to the punchlines. Even his most smugly-stated views are always countenanced by a self-aware caveat. Or just a cheeky wink.
It's easy to see him moving on to bigger things in the near future, but for now his show remains a passionate, searingly witty catharsis of everything that bothers him about the world. That's as focused a conclusion you can get from his ranting, but it doesn't really matter when he's got lines like, "I've got an Indian father and a Peshwari nan".