Here’s the setup (it’s best to use the deep Movie Guy voice for this): In the far future, sexy robots rule the land, while a small population of humans linger in the shadows. But sometimes, humans become so enamored with the robots that they want to become like them …
Identity lies at the heart of David Largman Murray’s “Robots vs. Fake Robots,” currently being presented by Walking Shadow Theatre Company. Human Joe wants desperately to leave his life as a human being behind and join with the robots who dance and have — it is said — glorious sex all of the time. The transformation comes with danger, both physical — the robots are also good at torturing and killing humans — and emotional.
Once inside, he finds that these supersexy types, who have names like Garlic Press, Knee Pad and Nintendo 64, are loaded with their own issues, politics and pains. Still, the sweet smelling land draws the disguised Joe into its spell.
Like a lot of good science fiction, “Robots vs. Fake Robots” is about a lot more than is on the surface. Questions of identity run throughout the piece, not just for Joe on his journey, but for the real robots themselves. They cling to artifacts of humanity — from their aping of fashion to their names, which are culled from our world, not theirs — while at the same time despising their own creators. They are also obsessed with beauty and will cast out any member who shows signs of age. In the case of robots, this comes with “rust,” a disease that portends their individual end.
Running a brisk 90 minutes (it’s not surprising to learn that Californian Murray is working on a film version) “Robots vs. Fake Robots” is able to get in plenty of knocks on current society (another hallmark of science fiction), both with humor (the odd, Euro-trash strutting of the mechanical characters; their odd take on American history) and drama (the conflict that grows between Joe and Sammie, his fellow human lover, which drives the latter half of the show).
“Robots vs. Fake Robots” has plenty of fun with the concept in the first half, but that quickly falls away to something darker, deeper and much more satisfying.
“Robots vs. Fake Robots” runs through June 27 at the People’s Center Theater, 425 20th Ave. S., Minneapolis. Tickets are $14 and $16. For information, call (612) 375-0300 or visit online.