Most “adult” plays are meant as biodegradable entertainment; few, if any offer as many ponderable themes as Maurice Martin’s R.U.X..
Just before the show, by chance I ran into Martin in the Tent while he was trying to get the late-night Fringies to come into his show. In our brief conversation, he told me that he originally wrote the play as a sexed-up version of Karel Capek’s R.U.R.— a play well-known to sci-fans as the work that originated the word “robot” (derived from the Czech word for slave).
A few rewrites later, the play loses most of its parallels with the 1920’s drama, while maintaining much of its framework.
Dr. Callie Varu (Aubri O’Connor) goes to work for a robot manufacturer, now being run by the founder’s son—Louis Rockwell Jr. ( John Tweel). Seeking to top his father’s success, Rockwell directs his company to work on a line of SeXbots. As Rockwell imagines, this market is limitless. But there are quite a few obstacles in the way of his dream of robotic sex companions.
First, they are robots after all, and don’t exactly have…human…desires. Callie, and hardware guru Gary Stator (Adam R. Adkins) struggle to install systems that will allow the machines to act more carnal. As it ends up, they are programming their personal desires and proclivities into machines that are supposed to appeal to the masses. Particularly amusing are the scenes between Callie and robot X2(Ben Gibson).
Actors are supposed to draw on emotion: how easy can it be to portray a character with no emotion? Gibson wins many smiles as a SeXbot being programmed by someone who is sexually confused. Early on, he is a pleasant, sociable machine, but he morphs with his programming into a dumb, compliant toy.
With his new SeXbots, he faces a religious conservative senator (Jim Epstien) who sponsored the law that bans human-robot intercourse. Rockwell uses one his SeXbots—X1 (Amie Cazel) —to seduce the senator so he can blackmail him into repealing his law. In this role, Cazel emerges as the star of this show. Her character, as it’s reprogrammed, changes her personality and appearance a few times in this play. In the first scene, she is the embodiment of a recorded message, dressed like a receptionist; later we see her as the clumsy SeXbot; Then we see her as the true seducer, dressed vampishly with all the sensuality; then she becomes a robot confused by her first original thought, struggling with human concepts of morality.
The later scenes focus on intriguing questions about how such machines will affect the human race when we no longer need to turn to each other for affection, and what becomes of such machines when the people they are meant to serve vanish. But don’t worry about that right now. If you go, go for the side-splitting humor, and the excellent cast.
R.U.X. (Rockwell’s Universal seXbots) has 5 shows, ending July 29, 2012, at Warehouse 645 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC.
Details and tickets
Steve rates this 4 out of a possible 5.