Max and Harry (Jane Horrocks and Mark Bonnar) are charming and convincing as a middle-aged couple whose next DIY excursion is building a robot named Jån (Brian Vernel). Not entirely coincidentally, Jån’s appearance is uncannily similar to their late son Nick, also played by Vernel, and Max and Harry process their residual guilt and remaining grief through rearing and shaping Jån’s personality/programming.
The entire cast is strong but Vernel is the stand-out as both Nick and Jån. He expertly shifts through Jån’s myriad settings with such precise physicality and fluidity. As Nick, he portrays a fully nuanced, endearing and tragic young man. Michele Austin as Laurie, a controlling, boasting mother and family-friend, is also excellent.
Although the script occasionally over-emphasises the parallels between programming Jån and parenting Nick, and falls short of fully examining how AI might infiltrate family dynamics, Hamish Pirie’s production is exceptionally done. Each scene is given as part of an assembly line, Cai Dyfan’s set slowly unpacked as the action continues. Apart from some slightly bizarre hopping movements between scenes, the entire design and atmosphere Pirie evokes is perfectly off-centre, and at times very poignant.
With some excellent performances and a strong production, Thomas Eccleshare’s Instructions for Correct Assembly is an intriguing play about AI, but more than anything gives insight into our own humanity.
|Instructions for Correct Assembly, Royal Court Theatre review
|Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London, SW1W 8AS | MAP
|Sloane Square (underground)
07 Apr 18 – 19 May 18, Monday - Saturday 19:30, Thursday & Saturday matinees 14:30 (from 19 April)
|£12 - £49
|Click here to book now