Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events. www.weekendnotes.com/profile/121822
Written in 1920, the Czech playwright, Karel Capek introduced to the English language and to science fiction for the first time, the word "robot" in his play Rossum's Universal Robots (R.U.R). In Czech, robota means forced labour (slave) of the type that serfs performed on their master's properties.
Capek's writing was way ahead of its time. His play puts him in the league of H.G. Wells The Time Machine. It is amazing to realise it all began nearly 100 years ago well before science fiction became a genre; leading onto various modern interpretations such as Robby the Robot, HAL 9000, Transformers, Star Wars, Star Trek, the Replicants in Blade Runner and Westworld, Doctor Who and various others.
Photo courtesy of Josh Heaysman
Set in the year 2020 the robots are tireless workers, replacing humans in the workforce. At the same time introducing some insights into the desire for cheap labour, freedom from mundane work, drudgery and allowing us humans, as expressed by one character more time to perfect ourselves. Questions are raised as to whether this is another example of humans exploring their boundless creativity or are we simply playing God as we create lifelike beings. Or without any consideration of the consequences are we at risk of being too clever for our own good as we develop robots so efficient, they no longer need us, and see themselves as superior, and seek to overpower us?
Asha Perry and John Cooper. Photo courtesy of Josh Heaysman.
Much of the acting is strong. Asha Perry is outstanding as Helena Glory, as is John Cooper as Harry Domin, and John Telford as Mr Alquist, the builder.
The stark set comprising of furniture is minimal but effective in capturing the bleak atmosphere of the factory on an un-named Europea island where lifelike robots in huge numbers are being produced.
Although the story isn't exceedingly deep, or surprising that the robots are destined to revolt, the story is gripping and despite the many modern robotic stories that have surfaced over the years, it has sufficient twists and developments, and raises questions concerning automation which we are still grappling with, that are bound to hold your attention. Of course, what is amazing, is Capek was the first. And he did it long before anyone else.
Director, Lindsay Nash (who also plays the role of Counsel Busman) has produced a play that is entertaining and well worth your time. This classic piece of playwriting, is bound to amaze science fiction followers and anyone who mistakenly believe robotics and artificial intelligence is so modern.
John Cooper as Domin and John Telford as Mr Alquist. Photo courtesy of Josh Heaysman