Malaprop’s LOVE+ considers the age-old question: can love ever blossom between man and machine?
While the main story doesn’t necessarily add anything particularly new to this well-established discussion, this play works best at its weirdest, shining in various vignettes where robot love is put under the microscope in more compelling and abstracted ways.
A conversation between two AI chatbots is acted out, and the actors’ voices are contrasted with lip-synchs that play out the disturbing disconnect between the organic and the artificial.
Coburn-Gray commands your attention with fourth-wall-breaking monologues unpacking what it means to learn and love as a machine (and in turn what it means to be human), and in a more humorous moment, the concept of robot sexuality is explored through a chat transcript between one of the actors and a hot and bothered sexbot.
These distinct and thought-provoking scenes encourage the audience to engage with the underlying question – can love be coded? – in a more entertaining and refreshing manner than the overarching narrative.
While an entertaining and tightly-composed production, the show is less successful as a two-hander.
Caoimhe Coburn-Gray delivers an incredibly compelling performance as the new-to-love android and live-in maid.
Maeve O’Mahony too succeeds in conveying the very human vulnerability and anxiety of our protagonist, however, the relationship between the two doesn’t fully convince.
Now, this could arguably be an intentional decision to further highlight the dichotomy between flesh and chrome, but nonetheless the duo excelled when playing out more than this particular tension.
Perhaps a tad abrupt in its conclusion, the ball is left in the audience’s court to determine what happens our wire-crossed lovers.
But for its faults, LOVE+ is a well-conceived and effectively executed look into love in the age of the internet of things.