It's fitting that Malaprop's production Love+ opens with a pair of robotic voices discussing Asimov's 3 laws of robotics, as the play is essentially an exploration and continuation of the themes and concepts that he was exploring through sci-fi novels and short stories, albeit with a distinctly more female twist on the concept.
The play concerns a woman and her robot, a live-in device that mimics a human woman, cooks, cleans, compliments and can even provide myriad romantic and sexual reliefs as well. Through the course of the piece, we watch her come to grips with the discomfort of living with an automaton who needs no thanks or comfort and is equally happy to be a sex object, mother figure, spouse or punchbag.
What sets Love+ apart from the crowd is that there is no intent to tell a gaudy or garish story here. The piece is contemplative, thoughtful and carries a brittle sadness inherent to the loneliness that it shows. It also is genuinely funny, eliciting peals of laughter throughout the play.
Breffni Holahan and Catherine Russell both shine in their roles. Russell as the emotional core, trying to get her head round the situation, and Holahan as the robot, with a wordy and clipped performance, who also gets most of the funniest lines.
Throughout the piece, there are moments where one or both of the cast address the audience directly, through dialogue or miming to pre-recorded voices, and the back wall of the stage has information projected upon it, lending the piece a further sense of futurism.
Considering the recent spate of articles and news items surrounding the use of sex androids and the evermore present role of automation and technology in our lives, this comes as a timely and excellent production from a company that will go far.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan