MEDIA: Transhuman Comedic Play

Doug Bailey (
Fri, 21 Aug 1998 10:00:45 -0400

I'm in Edmonton for a few days on business and happened across this review in "The Edmonton Sun", a regional newspaper. I'm planning on seeing this show this weekend and hopefully meeting the creators. Perhaps this is the first Transhuman comedy?

Theatre for Tecnophiles
(c) 1998 The Edmonton Sun

An impressive offering by two young Calgarians, Shared Accommodation is more than just a rote roommate-from-hell story. It's about space travel, academics, using others, remaking personalities ... and robots.

Yes, this reviewer simply must start by singling out the robotic co-star, Act Bot 2000, for special praise. Early arrivals at the theatre are allowed to view his initialization process as his servomotors are activated and his actor's warmup program loosens his lips ("Mwah! Mwah! Mwah! Hey, man, good luck out there.'')

But once the play begins, he disappears utterly into the role of Simon Gentle, bookish, high-strung and hostile postgraduate student. All members of Edmonton's robotic community - especially the mayor - should take in Act Bot 2000's work. He's easily the best robot actor since Dolph Lundgren.

Simon's research into nanotechnology - tiny robots effecting repairs and alterations to larger bodies - is constantly being disrupted by his roommate O'Ryan Hauser (Jamie Northan), a grating and ingratiating sociology student whose abuse of etiquette, good taste and himself drive Simon to distraction.

The dynamic ("You are spiders' eggs hatching from my ears'') is plausible and even pleasurable enough, but what takes the play beyond sitcom territory is the solution the duo hits upon. At a personal low ebb, O'Ryan suggests using Simon's technology to restructure his personality.

The show then becomes a comment on science, scientific competitions and the nature of friendship - but with many zingers. Some of the physical humor is clumsy, and - as noted by Sun reviewer Garnet Fraser, also in attendance - the breadth of Northan's transformation sometimes strains credulity. But the writing is always there, and the conclusion metes out a rough moral justice for an odd couple that is constantly getting even.

Northan and Act Bot 2000 are promising and compatible prototypes. Release to the mass market is recommended.