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Loving Androids

Philip Ayckbourn

16 - 23 March 2019

Philip Ayckbourn


Synopsis

Two fascinations of mine when growing up were humans and gadgets. They still are – although gadgets perhaps to a lesser degree now, as the glamour of owning the latest thing doesn’t quite have the same appeal. Humans, however, remain an endless source of intrigue.

Many a happy hour in my youth was spent either writing stories and dramas or mastering/amusing myself with some remote controlled toy. So when I saw Michael Crichton’s classic sci-fi fantasy Westworld, which fused people with technology, I was naturally hooked. Androids were a relatively new concept back then, there were plenty of robots kicking around, but not so many androids – in my experience anyway. Not only was I captured by the intriguing story and the twists and turns of the drama, but I was equally curious about the fabricated inhabitants of this lifelike theme park: how were they powered? Were they autonomous, semi-autonomous or completely controlled by white-coats in some observation room? What did they physically feel like? Did they actually experience pain or pleasure? What did they do in their spare time? The other aspect I found intriguing/disturbing were the human visitors who would play out their fantasies – often brutal ones – on these human-like playthings. How, after a holiday of killing and abusing, they could return to their families invigorated and refreshed ready to kick off a new working week? Fast forward to present day and the writing of Loving Androids. The setting is somewhere in the not-too-distant future when androids have been crafted to Westworld standards – not our present day clunky versions with the wires still showing – and intelligence, emotions and sensibilities are also more highly advanced (in androids that is, not so much the humans.) Partnerbots Incorporated specialise in providing domestic androids for the purpose of repairing broken/breaking marriages and relationships. Programmed by experts in the field of marriage guidance, psychotherapy, communication skills and body language, they are perfectly designed to work with and feed-back on most of the conceivable stumbling blocks in human relationships, while, at the same time, providing a full physical engagement with their human partner. Remember ‘doing it with a droid don’t count’, Partnerbots’ representative Derrick Payne suggests should be the company’s informal slogan. Julia and Gavin embark on their eight week Partnerbot programme, paid for by Julia’s wealthy parents, in the hope of rebooting their virus riddled marriage, and Partnerbots Max and Frankie are just the droids to do it for them. As with all dramas, the course of anything never did run smooth, and, without giving away the plot, Gavin and Julia find themselves on quite an unplanned for journey with their temporary partners. Perhaps Gavin and Julia will learn what they need to save them from their loveless selves. Perhaps Derrick Payne will be taken to task for his mistreatment of his ‘inferior model’ android Lola. And perhaps Max and Frankie will find contentment in their all-too-brief awakening before disassembly in the Cheltenham workshop.

Audition

Audition Sun 4 November 2018 2:30pm foyer
Audition Sat 10 November 2018 10:30am foyer

Audition Date: Sunday 4 November 2018, 2.30pm and Saturday 10 November 10:30am in the Lewes Little Theatre Foyer. Rehearsals will take place from 7 January 2019 with the big Sundays on 3 and 10 March 2019. Scripts are available from Philip Ayckbourn on 07973 859898 or at philipayckbourn@yahoo.com.

A new comedy written and directed by Philip Ayckbourn. Set in the not too distant future, Gavin and Julia take on two personal and carefully programmed androids (Partnerbots) to rescue their failing marriage. After Gavin and Julia reveal the inhumane side of their humanity in their dealings with their personal Partnerbots, a breakdown in the AI’s programming leads both humans and androids to ask some deep questions of themselves. Although character’s age is specified, as usual, consideration will be given to your playing age and focus will be more on suitability for the role. Please check performance and rehearsal dates. If you have potential difficulties with some of the rehearsal dates (other than a couple of evenings or so) please could you make us aware of that at the audition. If you’re unable to make either of the audition days please get in touch and we may be able to see you at another time.

Gavin - mid/late forties. Comes across as aloof, cynical and aggressive/defensive. Has somewhat lost touch with himself. His journey in the play is one of reconnecting with his feelings and learning empathy for others.

Julia - mid/late forties. Similar to Gavin, although more communicative – at times. A similar journey in the play: to reconnect with her feelings and learning empathy for others.

Max - mid-twenties to mid-forties. Sophisticated android and extremely humanlike. No need for robotics impersonations although some slight hint of that would be suggested. Is kind, thoughtful and innocent. Develops a more complex set of emotions as the play progresses.

Frankie - same as Max. Differences between the two androids will be discovered in rehearsal.

Derek - around fifty. Chirpy sales representative. Short and portly (perhaps), nasal voice. Has a seedy and cruel side.

Lola - mid twenties to mid forties. Less advanced android (earlier model). Non speaking, vulnerable and watchful. Has a line at the end, in a deeper voice.