Why are futuristic robots usually depicted as doing domestic chores like vacuuming carpets, when what we really want them for is readily available sex?
If that conundrum strikes a chord with you, you may want to check out the lean and steamy playlet, The Good Girl, by Australia’s Emilie Collyer, receiving its South Florida premiere through Oct. 29 from Fort Lauderdale’s Primal Forces.
It takes place in an unspecified future, at a time when human connections are passé, replaced by coitus with sophisticated humanoid sex machines. This we learn from the rapid-fire dialogue between a robot’s owner, a white-wigged kewpie doll named Anjali, and the robot’s maintenance man, Ven. And as performed with a mechanical flair by Amber Lynn Benson and Jovon Jacobs, there is a suggestion that perhaps they too are robots.
Primal Forces is the brainchild of Keith Garsson – recently of Delray Beach’s Arts Garage, where he specialized in such plays as Sex with Strangers and The Mystery of Love & Sex. Do you notice a pattern in the scripts he chooses to produce?
In The Good Girl at least, the sex is all talk. But Collyer writes sharp, snappy dialogue that explores issues of the nature of humanity, human connections and reality versus simulation. Like all worthwhile science fiction, the futuristic setting is intended as a reflection of our own society and, in this case, its sexual hang-ups.
As the play begins, Ven arrives for a maintenance call on the (offstage) sexbot, but from the sexual tension in his flirtatious exchanges with Anjali, she is apparently the focus of his ardor.
They banter throughout the intermissionless work’s 55 minutes, largely about the human qualities of the robot, who has taken to shedding human-like tears – a trait “she” was never programmed for. The line between humans and droids has begun to blur, which leads to many a moral quandary.
In contrast to the New York production of The Good Girl, Primal Forces emphasizes the futuristic in its design elements. Natalie Tavares’s scenic design features a wall of vertical strips of mirror and a half dozen white circles – halos? – suspended overhead. The effect is cold and distancing.
Benson is clad in metallic blue as well as blue lipstick, which also does not suggest personality warmth, compounded by her mechanical delivery. Jacobs, seen most recently in GableStage’s Informed Consent, seizes the opportunity to inject a little humanity into the proceedings.
The Good Girl is not the deepest play you are likely to encounter, but the byplay between the characters does intrigue, and fortunately it knows not to stretch itself beyond the one-hour mark.
THE GOOD GIRL, Primal Forces at Andrews Living Arts, 23 N.W. 5th St., Fort Lauderdale. Through Sun., Oct. 29. $30. 866-811-4111.