Dublin Theatre Festival: Eliza’s Adventures in the Uncanny Valley

Review by Kevin Worrall

Exploring love, body and friendship, Pan Pan Theatre’s production of ‘Eliza’s Adventures in the Uncanny Valley’ weaves through the possibility of robots living as humans.

Set in a pastiche clinical suite, four people live under the watchful eye of Mrs H (Jane McGrath).
Each member is introduced at different points, and share their story.

Combining elements of interpretative dance, spoken word, and the occasional song, the cast each take turns to examine their dependency with the other tenants.

Eliza herself, (Genevieve Hulme-Beaman) is a floral consultant. Her demure stage presence wrestles between the static, robotic text, and the character’s quirky sense of humor. She is a consistent point of contact for her co-stars and audience – when things get a bit too complicated and hard to follow, it is Eliza who seems to pull together a bit of clarity.

Amy Molloy’s Sophia is the direct opposite, an erratic, yet sweet girl, who forms a bond with Eliza.

Two men also occupy the space. Both more mature, and just when you think the production has found a strike of order, you find the men are just as wacky as the rest of them.

Whilst it’s clear from the beginning that the play will be going down the avant-garde route, it can at times be a little lost on the audience. The story continuously gets lost and audience members are left feeling more than a bit uncomfortable.

Any sense of narrative and character growth is carefully concealed, if there at all.

Despite frustrations with the story, the ensemble are a strong bunch. Each one successfully manages to bring forth the stoic and cold frontier – convincing its onlooker that the people they see before them aren’t people at all. Nothing is real. And that the Uncanny Valley is a place one would rather avoid.

www.dublintheatrefestival.com

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