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Artificially Yours (Susan Elkin reviews)

Artificially Yours

By Aaron Thakar

Parkhouse Pictures

Riverside Studios

Star rating 3

This is the first theatre show presented by Parkhouse Pictures and it’s a pretty decent, workmanlike effort which combines the very traditional with the very topical. It is structured so that all the scenes take place in a sitting room – although it moves seamlessly between three homes – which is a nod to an old fashioned drawing room play. On the other hand it’s about three couples and their reliance on an automated counselling programme called Agape which answers back, anticipates and sometimes makes decisions. Yes, Aaron Thakar’s debut play is a strong piece of writing for our times and it’s fun that he is also in the cast playing the likeable Ash who’s an out-of-work actor. Thakar, we were told at the end by producer Ella Jarvis, who plays Ellie, is only 21. One to watch, I think.

What the play actually does is to explore the dynamic of relationships between men and women whether they have met only quite recently, have been living together for a while or have been married for years and are now divorced. In each case – and we gradually see the links between these six people – there’s taut tension between the quarrels, disagreements, misunderstandings and betrayals and the chemistry which attracts them to each other.

The six actors work successfully together and all are competent with Leslie Ash as Pippa being especially convincing as the older woman who has a health condition and thinks she would like a new relationship – or maybe not.  The other actor who really stands out is Jake Mavis as Noah in his first stage role. His character is bombastic, tiresome and as an ambitious runner, self-obsessed – not to mention not over bright.  And Mavis gets that nicely. But Noah changes and develops during the play’s I hour 40 minute run time. And I really liked the way Mavis nailed the much more serious Noah towards the end of the play.

It’s a witty play with some very funny lines. But it also poses some serious questions about AI. Surely, if your relationship is developing cracks then you need to talk to each other, or possibly to a flesh-and-blood counsellor? How can what Destiny Mayers as Lilah reminds us several times is just a programmed robot possibly be better?


Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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