Autopilot

Ben Norris
Bill's Mother, Beth Shouler and Nic Doodson Productions
Pleasance Courtyard

Autopilot Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Autopilot promises a lot coming straight out of the gate. The show drops the audience into a conversation between two young women conniving to secure a pair of rooms in a flat by pretending to be lifelong friends despite only barely knowing one another. But almost immediately, the piece shifts time and place, showing us this moment or that, forward or back, and brick by brick building the story of their love affair.

The pair of young actors follow and jest with each other under a neon square suspended above them, changing hue as scenes shift in time or to represent the activation of the frequently called upon Amazon Alexa device.

The whole is a strange beast, as the fragmented, almost memory-like jumps through time give the whole an impression of a fever dream. But the problem is that for the early portions of the play, the narrative is a bit too skittish and the largely conversational and slang-filled lines leave rather too much up to guesswork.

There’s also a problem that there feels like there is something major being built up to, when instead what this is, simply and effectively enough, is the adversity of a love affair and the challenges that come from two vastly different people trying to connect when neither is willing to freely or fully open up to the other, particularly when there are so many sci-fi and near future aspects to the story that seem hinted at frequently throughout.

It’s a well acted performance, and the staging and concept is novel enough that it is more than enough to pull the audience through; it just feels ultimately like there should have been more to it rather than the mundanity of two moderately likeable people and their romance.

Reviewer: Graeme Strachan