Heaven forbid the day should come when actors are replaced by electronic “actoids” as Alan Ayckbourn wickedly fantasized in “Comic Potential”. Set in the not too-distant future, the play imagines a world in which soap operas are performed by robots programmed to act.
Into this situation comes the idealistic Adam, nephew of the millionaire TV station head honcho. Adam wants to write comedy. He worships the director, Chandler, once a Hollywood legend but now a Scotch-drinking has been, and so hangs out on set. Adam starts chatting with a fembot serial number JCF31333 nicknamed, Jacie and discovers that not only can this bundle of wires carry on a conversation; she is also miraculously endowed with a residual sense of humor. Jacie calls this a fault in her programming but Adam believes she has comic potential.
Adam devises a comedy special built around Jacie but the studio will not hear of it. The owner of the TV station and a hard-nosed producer view Jacie’s “potential” as a malfunction, so the young screenwriter, now smitten with his android star, decides to go on the run with her. This introduces Jacie to a variety of situations in the real world with surprising and hilarious results.
An emotionally confused Jacie decides to have herself melted down rather than suffer ‘emotions’ any longer, but is pulled back from the brink by her love for Adam. Jacie grows more human and the line between actoid and human diminishes.
Comic Potential was written by Sir Alan Ayckbourn, a prolific English playwright and director who has written and produced more than seventy full-length plays.