Sunday, October 2

Assisted – The Space at Surgeons’ Hall

Technology in our home has become the norm and we barely bat an eyelid at requesting information from our reliable Alexa. But how much information should we allow Alexa to have? At a time when our lives are stored on our smart phone’s – banking apps, apps for booking restaurants, exercise monitors, to name but a few functions that they perform, how nosey should these AI devices be?

Our couple, Jordan (Matt Vickery) and Connie (Emma Wilkinson Wright), live what appears to be a happy life together, they have been dating for some time and have finally decided to take their relationship to the next level, to move in together. To help to make Connie feel at home, Jordan sets up a profile for her with his Alivia (Jessica Munna), his all singing and dancing AI voice assistant. Initially Connie enjoys the luxury of being able to ask for her favourite music and play games with Jordan with Alivia’s help. The fabulous Alivia is designed to make everyday life easier for the user, and with Jordan’s technology background, and his logical, organised personality, Alivia would seem like the perfect addition to their home.

The problems start to arise, when Connie’s laid back, fun-loving personality begins to tire of the constraints that Jordan subjects her to. The once helpful Alivia has now become opinionated, which fuels Jordan’s need for control.

This play focuses on the logical nature of a pre-programmed device, which should be there to assist the purchaser, to make their daily lives simpler to manage. The problem is that the controller, i.e., the purchaser, is not a machine – we are human beings with individual personalities. Written by Greg Wilkinson, this play is multi-layered. It also focuses upon human relationships, and how they are affected by an outside influence. In this case, the outside influence is an AI, whose understanding of the human condition may grow with information input, but they will never be able to feel like a human being.

The interesting thing here, is that both Jordan and Connie are human, but their experience with Alivia was vastly different, the human brain is still not really understood, and cannot be replicated by technology.

As there was little staging for this production, the focus was on the writing and performances, which I can say were very interesting. Jessica Munna did an excellent job as the offstage Alivia and the cast battled with the heat in the sweatbox amiably. This play warrants more attention, and I wish Oxia Theatre well in developing this play further.

This play runs until the 27th August, please take note of the change in venue for different dates when booking. Follow this link to book – https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/assisted-1

Reviewer: Caroline Worswick

Reviewed: 11th August 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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