Tag Archives: Eve Ponsonby

A Dead Body in Taos

A Dead Body in Taos


Wilton’s Music Hall

A DEAD BODY IN TAOS at the Wilton’s Music Hall


A Dead Body in Taos

“Rachel Bagshaw’s direction moves the action backwards and forwards with an efficient pace and energy, but we do occasionally get bogged down in explanation”


“When they called saying your body had been found, I had one immediate thought. I remember thinking that maybe now I’d be free”. These are the first words that Sam (Gemma Lawrence) speaks to her mother Kath (Eve Ponsonby) in over three years. Sam has just arrived in the small town of Taos in the New Mexico desert to identify the body. The freedom to which Sam is referring is obviously emotional rather than physical as there seems to have been little communication between mother and daughter up to this point. Nevertheless, Sam would still be seeking some sort of closure, and conversations with the deceased are often consoling.

Not so for Sam. She’s not talking to a corpse, but a mechanical representation of her mother aged thirty-five, into which her mother’s memories, emotions and biographical data have been uploaded. But sadly, not a lot of her personality. Artificial Intelligence has been taken to its technological, moral and unsettling extreme and we are invited to question the nature of death and human consciousness. But before we have much of a chance, we are whisked back to Kath’s student days where there is much talk about the 1968 protests, Vietnam, Cambodia and changing the world. In writer David Farr’s world, it is peopled with caricatures whose urgency and fervour seem to be being lampooned. The link to the present is a touch tenuous, but on the stage the two settings are constantly rubbing shoulders with each other in the revolving doors of a confusing narrative. We are not really sure where to invest our interest.

The dichotomy suits Sam though. Gemma Lawrence is a very watchable presence, particularly when she begins to thaw and engage with her mother’s posthumous identity. Initially outraged, she warms to the idea and we, in turn, warm to the general theme of the piece. Farr explores the flip side of Artificial Intelligence. The Future Life Corporation, where Kath is recreated, focuses on the ‘unintelligence’. The flaws that make us human. It’s not just about synthesising data, but also the false hopes, the self-delusion; the layers of deception inherent in us all. The mess and the chaos. And the unspoken love.

It is a very wordy, and at times worthy, play. Rachel Bagshaw’s direction moves the action backwards and forwards with an efficient pace and energy, but we do occasionally get bogged down in explanation. The use of surtitles is questionable and sometimes distracting and unnecessary. The performances cannot be faulted. Eve Ponsonby’s Kath seamlessly flits from her ardent past to the robotic present, and Clara Onyemere’s portrayal of Tristana Cortez – the humanely pragmatic supervisor at the Future Life Corporation – is one of the highlights of the evening.

The crux of the issues remains unanswered – as they probably always will be. “How do you create a person who has no idea who they are?” asks Cortez. “A Dead Body in Taos”, despite containing some insightful dialogue, doesn’t quite know what it is either. Like some of the scenes there are too many voices vying to be heard. We long to have our focus tied to a stronger lead. Perhaps that is the reason behind the surtitles after all.


Reviewed on 27th October 2022

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Helen Murray


Wilton's Music Hall thespyinthestalls


Previously reviewed at this venue:


Roots | ★★★★★ | October 2021
The Child in the Snow | ★★★ | December 2021
The Ballad of Maria Marten | ★★★½ | February 2022
Starcrossed | ★★★★ | June 2022
Patience | ★★★★ | August 2022



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AI Love You – 5*


AI Love You

Theatre N16

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