Friday, July 13, 2007

Universal Robots

Mac Rogers has upgraded Karel Capek's R.U.R. by installing Capek himself into the new show, appropriately titled Universal Robots. The strong storytelling and superb acting (especially from the ridiculously robotic Jason Howard) make the play at least as good as Capek's original, but it's the freshly updated emotional core that makes this a much-needed overhaul. The two plays are really only the same at face-value: both are about robot drudges who eventually evolve beyond humans ("You say unnecessary things") only to find that in replacing them, they become them. However, Rogers' script has added drama from the brother-sister relationship between Karel and Jo, and also between the eccentric Rossum and her sheltered and lovestruck daughter, Helena. Also, by adding a narrator, Rogers is able to play tricks with the progression of scenes, not to mention the insertion of monologued asides that flesh out the world and show off the ensemble.

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