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Photo by Mandy Simpson.
From Baby Horse Theatre Group
Directed by Jon Becraft
Review by Lucas Adams
Entire contents copyright © 2018 by Lucas Adams. All rights reserved.
I read an article a few months ago about Google’s Duplex A.I. demo that was created to make phone calls in a voice indistinguishable from that of a human, and a 2017 episode of “Radiolab” details a different computer program capable of editing video recorded speech and completely changing the words and facial expressions of the speaker. A video recording of President Obama that has been completely rearranged is available online for you to view. You could argue that these A.I. demos beat the Turing Test, developed to measure whether a computer was capable of demonstrating intelligent behavior equivalent to or indistinguishable from that of a human.
As A.I. grows better and smarter, I often wonder if it is our salvation or if we are replacing ourselves. Humans with their emotions and Free Will are a poor substitute for the power and decision-making of a machine. Can we eradicate the inequities of our laws by giving their creation over to a being incapable of anything but searching for the mathematically highest percentage that a decision will lead to peace and prosperity? Where does that leave us and what sort of resentment will it engender?
Baby Horse Theatre Company’s Robothello, a short and very clever piece of theatre, playing at the inaugural Louisville Fringe Festival, grapples with these questions and leaves one with much to consider about the weakness and beauty of humanity and yet also gives us a beautiful A.I. character whose curiosity is something we have all felt.
In the year 3003 on the planet Venus, the last of the A.I. Senators, M-0-R, adroitly rules over the politics of the planet and the Venutian Ministers rely on its calculations to steady the ship of state and dispense with the emotions and internecine battles that had nearly destroyed the planet. This system and the frail male ego presents cracks that can be easily exploited for personal gain by the right person and the script plays smartly on the jealousy and pain, as well as the love and power dynamics that shape Shakespeare’s Othello, using these themes to forge its own unique and thrilling plot that adds a surprisingly deep exploration (given the play’s 30 minute run time) of A.I. and humanity’s relationship with its own creation.
The show’s music and video design (from the mind of Baby Horse co-Artistic Director and the show’s director, Jon Becraft) help immediately set the tone and provide the needed atmosphere in the small upstairs theatre space at Monnik Beer Company. There is little room for set pieces on the tiny stage and Mr. Becraft’s sound and visuals more than make up.
A wonderful cast of local talent handles the script and the technological demands of the show with aplomb and each character is clearly defined through strong physical and mask work. The pre-recorded script, mixed with the show’s sound and video design, augment the cast’s work nicely and remove any worry about vocal issues that can sometimes accompany the use of the full mask.
Robothello’s cast, director, and design team have created an incredibly thoughtful piece of short, festival theatre that asks questions and leaves its audience to move out into the world and grapple with our place in it. We will tweet about the show and share the event with friends on social media using the very machines that one day could grow to be something so much more powerful than we have ever imagined.
Robothello has added a performance on Monday night, July 16th at Monnik during the 7-9 block of the festival and its closing performance is at Saturday, July 21st at 8:00pm at Four Pegs (note the show’s location change) Tickets for this show and the entire festival can be found at loufringefest.brownpapertickets.com.
Featuring: Katherine Martin, Amy Davis, Meghan Logue, Jacqueline Heinzen, Gracie Taylor, Jon Becraft, and the additional voice talents of Mollie Murk and Andrew Stairs.
July 14 @ 8:00pm, July 16 at 7:00pm Monnik Beer Co. and July 21 @ 10:00pm at Four Pegs Beer Lounge.
Part of the 2018 Louisville Fringe Festival
Monnik Beer Company
1036 East Burnett Avenue
Louisville, KY 40217
Lucas W. Adams has been involved in Louisville theatre since 2007. He has worked as an actor and director with Theatre 502, Pandora Productions, Walden Theatre, and StageOne Family Theatre to name a few and with Actors Theatre of Louisville’s New Voices program as a dramaturg. In addition to his artistic resume, Lucas was a teacher and fundraiser for many years at StageOne Family Theatre and is currently a member of the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Lobster Feast Event Committee. Lucas is an avid runner and can currently be found on the streets with his run club training for the 2018 New York City Marathon.