AI Love You, VAULT Festival

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by guest critic Serena Ramsey

As an audience member, I always love when the actors break the fourth wall I love to feel immersed in the world. Within the play. AI Love You not only immerses us in a world surrounded by Amazon Echoes, drones and hover boards, but gives the audience the chance to dictate the plays structural direction. The power is completely within the hands of the onlookers who are given the role of jury and critics in this snappy and deeply moving play.

Adam (Peter Dewhurst), an artificial intelligence robot created solely as a partner for April (Eve Ponsonby) with the main objective of fulfilling her happiness, pleads with the jury (the audience) to help end his life. He has inhabited a glitch due to his overwhelming love for April and is essentially her slave. He is aware this is not good for either of them and begs to be destroyed. The audience then hears the other side of the coin – April’s unfulfilled life without Adam and the loneliness which is engulfing her. A decade ago, these issues would have been an interesting thought experiment, but now they are inching into reality.

Each audience member is handed a white voting card upon entering and is called
upon to vote numerous amount of times throughout the show, joining in the debate.
We have a chance to question each character individually; both show remarkable improvisation skills given the intricacy of the audience questions. Dewhurst in particular keeps the audience on edge hanging on his every word responding with quick wit and insight.

The performance is littered with snappy flashbacks, of which there could be more. The flashbacks give the audience insight into the relationship and aided the spectators to invest in the connection between the two characters. April’s dependency on Adam is is very common and relateable, as obsession can be toxic in any relationship. Ponsonby gives a desperate and engaging performance, throwing herself into every scene of frustration. Dewhurst responds with the complete conviction of a human-like robot, with small glitches and ticks creeping into dialogue.

Relying on the audience for the outcome of a play is a bold and exhilarating move. AI Love You holds up a mirror to the technological challenges facing society in a way similar to the Netflix hit series Black Mirror and asks the question “Is this what is to come?”

AI Love You runs through 11 February.

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