Stuart King

Review: ARTIFICIALLY YOURS at Riverside Studios

Pitching itself as a very modern dark comedy, ARTIFICIALLY YOURS explores the impact of AI technology on three couples who each have always listening therapy devices in their homes to help solve basic (and often petty) disputes. But can such a device really work? More importantly, is it doomed to failure when confronted with the deeper complexities around human interaction and disconnection?

Aaron Thakar (Ash) and Destiny Mayers (Lilah) in Artificially Yours at Riverside Studios. Photo by Andrew FoskerAaron Thakar (Ash) and Destiny Mayers (Lilah) in Artificially Yours at Riverside Studios. Photo by Andrew Fosker

On a simple set, where a sofa sits centre stage facing the audience and is supported on either side by armchairs, there is little doubt from the outset that we are being encouraged to focus our attentions on Agapé the blue glowing pseudo-therapist sitting atop the coffee table. In quick succession, each of the three pairings appear from the wings for their scenes, revealing their conversational drama which is neatly laced with backstory. Then the process repeats.

From these relatively tentative and theatrically unchallenging beginnings, develops a neatly woven and pointedly interconnected piece of theatre for which a large portion of the credit must go to Aaron Thakar who at the age of 21 is clearly a playwright whose strength is to tackle a tricky relevant premise by exploring its impact on his characters via uber-realistic and often awkwardly uncomfortable dialogue. It is perhaps unsurprising that Thakar is one of the 6 on-stage performers given that he clearly knows how to write the sort of exchanges which jangle nerves, ruffle feathers and in so doing, resonate with an audience. The script is tight and spattered with pithy one-liners, caustic retorts and the sort of shock-inducing revelations which can only result from someone (or some thing) being privy to too much information and possessing insufficient discretion.

Alexa, Siri and AI are here to stay. And far from accepting that certainty with blithe complacency, this reviewer (and those of his generation) believe that fact should strike cold fear into the heart of every human being!

Along with the playwright, the strong and youthful cast of Jake Mavis, Ella Jarvis and Destiny Mayers are ably encouraged by the more veteran pairing of Leslie Ash and Paul Giddings.