Presented by SAYarts
Reviewed 27 February 2019
Only Human was developed by On the Fringe, director Claire Glenn and playwright Sophia Simmons using input, inspiration and improvisation from the young actors at SAYarts. It has elements of aburdist and black comedy while at the same time posing deep questions about artificial intelligence, rapid technological change and what might be the outcomes of all these ‘improvements’. It is a very, very funny piece and at the same time thought provoking.
The set consisted of fluro-taped squares on the floor, reprised in the effective fluro orange, and glow in the dark, socks, wristbrands and neck ties in the regimented dress of the robots. This was in stark contrast to the casual attire of the humans – except for the Creator. With his sparkling jacket, brilliant under the lights, Jonah Stewart was the quintessential promoter. Unfortuneately, things quickly go somewhat pear shaped with his new robot, wonderfully portrayed by David Lawton. The uBot has a new operating system and interface which allows it to develop new ideas including getting rid of people: ‘It’s not that we hate you, you’re just in the way’.
There is a wonderful scene in which the robots and the humans shout insults at each other, each side denigrating what is different about ‘the other’ – the basis of discrimination throughout the ages – resulting in the ‘predictable behaviour’ of physical aggression. Cleverly demonstrating that although we humans may be technologically advanced, we don’t seem very emotionally or intelligently advanced.
The essence of human-robot interaction was seen through the relationship of Human, Emma Gregory and iBot, Luke Furlan. They were weirdly – he had come to rob her – and hilariously interrupted by Man, Ethan Miotti and his smart Samsung Fridge, Kynan Hartley, Microwave, Aisha Lauck, his smart LG TV played by Tom Sleep and his very strange Roomba vacuum, Sam Mckenna, with chaos ultimately ensuing.
The sophisticated use of lighting, animation, back projection and especially the video running on the TV screen hanging around Tom Sleep’s neck, earn special praise for Lighting Designer/Operator Anthony Kelly supported by Luke Furlan with Digital Design and Animation by Stu Nankivell assited by Micheal Rostig.
I wish I had the space to list everyone associated with the play, both on stage and behind the scenes, as it was a truly professional and fantastic production which succeeded in addressing questions which we will all need to consider as the brave new world of artificial intelligence and robots increasing become a part of our world and at the same time having the audience in stitches – particularly in the dance sequence choreographed by Sophie Fielder.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 5: 5 Brilliant!
Venue: Rumpus, Sixth St,
Season: Fri 28 Feb: 6:30pm, Sat 29 Feb: 2pm, 6:30pm, Sun 1 Mar: 5pm Are All Sold Out Tickets still available for Sun 1 Mar at 3pm
Duration: 60 mins