Making plans for the weekend? Absolutely head up to Stoneham Theatre to see two of our best local actors in a really surprising, and intriguing play that looks into the future of artificial intelligence and the possibility of living forever! That weird title UNCANNY VALLEY refers to a concept in the field of robotics– the more “human” an artificial being becomes, the more uncomfortable WE feel.
When the lights go up on this play by Thomas Gibbons, we come face to face with a head on a desk: Julian (Lewis D.Wheeler), a robot designed in a life extension laboratory. The audience immediately started laughing– the first sign of discomfort perhaps? Claire (Nancy E. Carroll) is the neuroscientist whose job it is to teach Julian how to be more human.
As the play unfolds, and their relationship develops, we will watch Wheeler “flesh out” his performance by meticulous increments. But in this very first scene as Claire works with Julian, she quips, “You’re a natural”; Carroll’s nuanced way with that simple line is hilarious and revelatory, offering a glimpse of the terrain we’re about to cover.
In the course of 90 minutes the play explodes from this kernel of a premise to a knot of ethical questions: What’s natural? What is consciousness? What is the appropriate use of this technology? What price immortality? Just sit back and enjoy, then head out to dinner and have something to really chew on. I’m still trying to absorb the full impact of the last line. SEE UNCANNY VALLEY at Stoneham Theatre through 10/23!