Intellectual writing, well elaborated characters and compelling themes of control in human and non-human relationships make Assisted at Surgeons' Hall a rewarding and entertaining experience.
Captivating throughout and stimulating in its intellectual queries and characterisation
Privacy, power dynamics, and their relation to AI is examined in a story that emerges through almost poetic dialogue. This underlines how emotional quality is humanity’s weakness against AI, given the disparity between the expression of human and non-human characters. While creative, the dialogue comes across as overly highbrow at times, taking away from the emotional depth of some of the action – although the acting ensures this depth is far from swept under the rug. The performances are nothing short of fantastic, with Matt Vickery’s initially smug and quirky Jordan becoming tyrannical and abusive. The drawback is it sometimes becomes too intense in the earlier scenes, forcing us to question Connie’s decisions. However, this is easily forgotten as the play progresses. Emma Wilkinson Wright as Connie is equally compelling. Her performance's capture of playfulness soon lost to isolation is a joy to watch. Wilkinson Wright and Vickery’s chemistry is potent and satisfying.
However, the play would not be complete without Alivia, the AI voiced by Jessica Munna and wonderfully made present through outward facing lights. These make this intangible presence something that we feel as intrusive. One hindrance in this excellent entity is a lack of extensive exploration when she refuses to reveal information to Connie, perhaps out of fear.
While not extraordinarily amusing, the banter between Jordan, Connie and Alivia is engaging and permits us to become acquainted with and attached to them, leaving a powerful impression. One of the best elements of the performance is the movement, particularly at the play’s conclusion, and praise must be given to Mandy Gordon, the Movement and Intimacy Director within the context of the overall sharp direction by Gareth Watkins.
Captivating throughout and stimulating in its intellectual queries and characterisation,
Assisted deserves a place on your busy Fringe schedule.