Jul 18, 2007

I, Robot

What is it with the Czechs and automatons? I'm thinking of their famous puppet theater, and of the disturbing films of Jan Svankmajer. I thought of these last night as I watched Mac Rogers' lovely, stirring show Universal Robots, at Manhattan Theatre Source through--yikes--tomorrow night only. It's an unashamedly sci-fi fable about the limits and responsibilities of science and the imagination, and it (mostly) deftly spins the Karel Capek play R.U.R. out of Capek's own real-life between-the-wars Czech Republic milieu. It doesn't manage to sustain its balancing act between the real and the fanciful, and it can't avoid some inevitable B-movie cliches. But it goes about its serious-minded business with such a pure spirit, and delivers so many delicious, unexpected jolts of humor, that it's worth sitting through some of the rough patches for the overall impact of the storytelling. I could see the play growing into a larger, more lavish venue and production, but this one is quite fine, and the cast is pretty close to ideal. I guess this is where you can find out about any spare tickets.

No comments: