AI Love You
Opening Night – 14th June 2017
“magnificent, complex and beautifully addictive”
Artificial Intelligence is a concept we have grown up with. The idea that one-day robots may become so advanced that they may be able to become living beings just like us. Every so often in films, you have the odd release about AI robots, my favourite being the 2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence, but in the theatre this as a topic area is less touched upon. AI Love You by Heart to Heart Theatre Company and directed by Joe Ball was a remarkable production that kept me gripped, torn and immersed until the very end.
The story is about an average young couple Adam and April who lead an ordinary life, except April is an artificially intelligent robot, created to be Adam’s perfect girlfriend. One day, April finds she has a bug in her system, a bug that cannot be fixed causing her body to begin to shut down. Thus, April decides she would like to appeal for her right for euthanasia. It is with this premise that the play begins.
Melanie Ball as the writer of the piece has to be praised for her poetic writing. Each character was multi-dimensional, living and existing through the outstanding writing. The structure of this piece was simple but extremely effective, where we as the audience have to make decisions throughout the piece that impacts the way the theatre piece unfolds; leading to us having the ultimate decision at the end and this, in turn, impacts the ending of the piece. And, it worked perfectly.
However, based on the responses of the audience in the show I attended and the arguments used by the characters themselves, it made me wonder how differently this piece would have been received if the AI was instead male. With a history of objectification, lack of rights and oppression, I feel as though most audiences will automatically side with the AI for she is female. Most of us when we hear women – robotic or not – being described as objects or belonging to a man we automatically side with her, but would the same be done for a male AI? This for me was the only thing I would challenge this piece to consider.
On another note though, Peter Dewhurst as Adam and Eve Ponsonby as April are true stars in this show. Both actors gave a tremendous performance. The chemistry emitted by both these young actors was addictive to watch. I was torn by the love Adam felt for April, for at times the way he demonstrated this love left me wondering about his true intentions. Peter’s performance was so nuanced that as the ‘human’, I was really left critically questioning him in hindsight of the decision I would need to make.
On the same note, Eve Ponsonby as the AI: April was so captivating from beginning to end. Every time she looked directly into my eyes, I felt continuously immersed in her story and the piece. Eve’s physicality, voice and presence throughout this piece really made us believe she was robotic with a human exterior. It was a nuanced performance; complete with a sense of truthfulness in every word she uttered either us or Adam.
AI Love You is magnificent, complex and beautifully addictive. It’s a story that stays with you even after the play ends because the fate of these characters is in your hands. The question is are you willing to find out what the consequences are?
Reviewed by Daniel Correia
AI Love You
is running until Saturday 24th June