Imagining a world overrun by robots seems passé. It's a popular trope in the science fiction world. Gideon Productions resurrects the story in a revival of Mac Rogers' Universal Robots. Playing the black box theater at the Sheen Center, Universal Robots finds inspiration from dramatist Karel Capek to create an allegory play framed within science fiction.
|photo by Deborah Alexander|
Universal Robots was part science fiction and part love story. It’s the mark of Rogers’ genius to marry the two styles. When it came to the love between Hanna Cheek’s Jo and Jason Howard’s Radosh and Radius, it wasn’t titillating enough to sell the story. From alien to robot, Howard is the go to for he nonhuman. Unfortunately he gave a one-dimensional performance. Siri had more personality than Radius. Cheek has a natural gruffness that boded well for Jo’s defensiveness but when it came to the romantic side, it was guarded. When it came to great performances, Sara Thigpen was head over heels. As the sole gender-bending role, Thigpen’s characterization was exceptional. She was reserved yet authoritative.
You hate to compare but you have to. After something so glorious, the next offering needs to be just as good, if not better. If you're coming into Universal Robots with fresh eyes, you'll likely have a different perspective. But if you saw The Honeycomb Trilogy, be prepared to be disappointed. Universal Robots was lacking that spark you’ve come to expect.