REVIEW: Plays By Bots

The premise is simple. Dramatron writes half of a play, complete with stage directions.

By Miki Zwarich

DeepMind, according to its website, consists of “a team of scientists, engineers, ethicists and more, committed to solving intelligence, to advance science and benefit humanity.” At the Fringe, this hive mind has benefited humanity by creating Dramatron: a bot fed with nuggets of wisdom from all corners of the internet that has written one, uh, “unique” play for each performance.

The premise is simple. Dramatron writes half of a play, complete with stage directions. Scripts and costumes are prepared and sealed prior to the show. Performers (who are not bots) have never seen them before and must do their best to bring Dramatron’s vision to life. Performers then improvise the latter half of the show to try and finish what Dramatron started.

The opening night’s result took us to “The Pool Pit,” a dingy dive bar, where Lola the bartender (Gordie Lucius), Rosie the boozehound (Tyra Banda), lounge singer Teddy (Jacob Banigan), and Gerald the rich guy (Michael Johnson) discuss an upcoming birthday, a new hat, and torching a luxury car. An honourable mention goes to Banigan, who mastered Dramatron’s voice and seamlessly took it off-script for the remainder of the show, much to the delight of the howling audience.

Plays by Bots proves that artificial intelligence can in fact write a hit Fringe play. Each night promises an equally bizarre show performed by a rotating cast of veteran improvisers. If Friday night’s performance was any indication of the shows to come, you are guaranteed to laugh until your face hurts.

Find tickets here

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