It’s the year 6000, and humans must contend with being less than desirable lovers compared to a world full of cat-walking supermodel sex-bots that can do it anytime, anywhere, and in any position. Unfortunately, they don’t want to do it with us. And there lies the rub, the temptation and the age-old question posed by playwright David Largman Murray in a fresh, dark sci-fi comedy that explores what it is that makes us human.
On the surface, humanity stinks…literally. In a post apocalyptic wasteland, humans eek out their existence that doesn’t include toiletries in a water rationed world while the perfect race of robots live underground in a perpetual, techno-pulsating orgy. Humans that dare to explore this paradise of erotica are discovered before they arrive by their hideous scent and are destroyed immediately with a cold, calculating frenzy of robotic bloodlust.
One would think this kind of rough sex without the sex would be enough to keep humans away, but part of our humanity is the curiosity and the desire for something we assume is better. Make it taboo and eating the bitter fruit from the Tree of Knowledge in the form of sex with robots is a temptation this many eons later, humans still cannot resist. Already symbolically cast out of the garden, the sacrifice for a quickie hardware romp is the total annihilation of our spirit, to become then, the artifice of artificial intelligence.
This is the temptation for Joe (Steven Connell), a war-ravaged man that fantasizes about robotic sex as an escape from his bleak life and rather missionary relationship with loyal girlfriend Sammie (Ida Darvish). Sex with robots is forbidden, but Joe discovers that a "descenting" procedure performed by irascible rogue robot Knee Pad (Greg Crooks) can fool the robots and permit entry into their world of titillating gyrations brilliantly choreographed by Jennifer Li. But the seemingly sexy, steel robotic underworld is not as perfect as it appears. Immortality is unachievable, for both humans and robots. Time eats away at our bodies and theirs, but compassion and love are what separates us from the vapid numbness of technological perfection.
The polarized world between man and machine is subtly fused with surprising twists and tender moments under the direction of Emily Weisberg. Edgy and stylized, the design elements and dance sequences with music by The Faint creates a glamorous peepshow that accentuates the sharp and sexy robot ensemble made even more tantalizing by costume designer Leah Piehl’s fantastic weaving of stark haute couture with vintage and club-inspired urban frocks.
Greg Crooks as Knee Pad gives a standout performance and commandeers the stage with his provocative leering and sinister sensuality. The ensemble robots are all mesmerizing with their stiff machinations and eerily blank facial expressions, but femme fatale War Propaganda played by Devin Sidell completely immerses herself in the role beautifully. Steven Connell as Joe and Ida Darvish as Sammie are at their best when they are not acting together. A lack of chemistry between them deflates some of the raw emotion needed and sorely lacking in the final moments of the play.
Workshopped at the UCSB New Plays Festival and a finalist for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in the Best Play and Best Director categories, "Robots vs. Fake Robots" is an exciting vehicle for emerging playwright David Largman Murray. In-between quick and wickedly witty dialogue, Murray posits philosophical questions with insightful and sometimes ghastly honesty that is emotionally mature and fascinating to watch unfold.
Photos by Will Gordh
"Robots vs. Fake Robots"
Runs Feb 16 – March 15
Fri & Sat at 8pm
Sat, March 1 & 8, 10:30pm performances
Sundays at 7pm
3116 2nd Street
310-396-3680 ext 3
We will not sell or distribute your e-mail address to anyone else.
Written by MR Hunter