Review: I Woke Up Feeling Electric, Hope Theatre

Hope Theatre's production of I Woke Up Feeling Electric

Hope Theatre's production of I Woke Up Feeling Electric - Credit: Archant

A timely play about privacy and AI raises interesting questions but is too short to realise its potential

This play by Jack Robson who also performs, comes at a timely moment.

AI is changing lives in a way that, even 20 years ago, was beyond the imagination of most people.

The consequent ethics and impact gets regular outings in books and film but theatre seems have bee quieter on the subject.

Bertie (nicely played with English can-do by Robson) is a virtual assistant - a sort of Siri - who helps Charlie (who appears as a disembodied human) with daily tasks, alarms, diary, coffee making, and travel.

He is surprised to find that he has been joined by a newcomer - a different operating system, in the shape of Vita (the versatile and assured Prouty).

She has a Californian accent, is in your face and is a more proactive programme (in contrast to the responsive Bertie).

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She can decide from previous choices what Charlie is likely to like and want and delivers it unbidden.

She asks of Charlie "Is he our pet? I give him orders and he seems to follow them?"

Bertie is wary of her passive aggressive questioning of what he does, and of his limited ambitions. He sees her as a threat to his sense of self importance.

"I liked not knowing. When free wasn't an option."

The work poses questions about privacy and the use of data, our relationship with machines and autonomy and, of course, the nature consciousness human or robot.

Tantalisingly, Robson briefly opens these doors, whets our appetite then moves on.

At only 60 minutes long, the play is too short to serve it's good ideas.

There is excellent dialogue, a cracking Tron-esque stage design, but it never quite unleashes the potential of what could be an excellent piece.