Have you ever wished you could have a robot to take care of the chores you no longer wanted to do? You might change your mind if you go to see “R.U.R.” now playing at the Beckett Theatre in New York.
R.U.R. was written by Czech writer Karel Čapek around 1920 and it originated the term “robot.” R.U.R. stands for Rossum's Universal Robots which is the name of the company that manufactures robots. In this show, the original robots were faceless units that did manual labor. Contentment was felt by all involved.
However, the second generation robots look like human beings and are very intelligent with signs of ability to reason like a human being. As we learn that human brains of dead people have been placed in these robots, a chill starts to fill the air. A computer chip added to the brain allows programming to guide what the robot can do. The insertion of a command to kill off the human race brings the conflict of the play into full focus. A third generation of robots is waiting in the wings to help bring the play to an emotional close. What happens during the show causes a viewer to pause and think about how prevalent technology has become in our society. One cannot help but wonder how the play was written close to 100 years ago and how it is more relevant today than it was back then. Čapek appears to have been a futurist as well as a writer.
This version being shown of "R.U.R". was adapted by Lee Eric Shackelford and directed by Valentina Fratti. This adaptation has brought the language, characters, themes and even props into a modern time period while remaining faithful to the original intention of the work.
The “R.U.R” cast includes: Kevin Bernard, Mac Brydon, Christine Bullen, Tyler Caffall, Chris Ceraso, Matt W. Cody, Jane Cortney, Charlotte Hampden, Meg Heus, Brad Makarowski, Sean Philips, Corey Tazmania, and James Ware. The play is an ensemble piece, however, it must be mentioned that Chris Ceraso is a stand out as the frustrated but loving Josef Alquist and Tyler Caffall’s portrayal of Radius, the robot, will get you looking behind you to make sure no robots got loose off the stage.
“R.U.R.” is a part of the Connecting Circuits put together by the Resonance Ensemble. They feature two shows in a repertory which include a classic play and a new play with resonating themes. Therefore, the second part of the Connecting Circuits is a new play called “The Truth Quotient” which examines the challenge of using technology to fill in empty voids in people’s lives.
“R.U.R” and "The Truth Quotient" are running now through February 2, 2013. The playing schedule is Tuesday at 2PM; Wednesday - Friday at 8PM; Saturday at 2PM & 8PM; Sunday at 3PM & 7PM at the Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street). “R.U.R” alternates performances with “The Truth Quotient.” Go to the Theatre Row website for more information. Tickets are only $19.25 per show.
About Resonance Ensemble: Their “goal is to weave a thread between the theatre's past, present, and future. We explore how classic plays by writers such as Euripides, Shakespeare, Molière, Chekhov, and Williams remain relevant and vibrant across countless eras and cultures, and endeavor to create new work in their spirit. By learning from and paying tribute to history's master dramatists, we strive to craft new theatre that is just as timeless and universal. To accomplish this goal, we invite the playwright to join the director in the exploration and interpretation of classic plays. We challenge writers to study their predecessors in order to create new work that resonates today. We are not interested in direct adaptations, but rather innovative new work that evolves from preexisting material. The process culminates with a production of the new play in repertory with the classic that inspired it.”
To learn more, visit their website at www.resonanceensemble.org.