Artificially Yours review – Riverside Studios, London ★★★★☆

Photo: Andrew Fosker

Review by Ethan Skillman

It seems that every time you open social media, or turn on the news, there is another piece of discourse involving artificial intelligence, which means that there is no better time for Artificially Yours to open. Artificially Yours is set in the very near future and tells the story of 3 seemingly unconnected couples who all use Agape, a state-of-the-art AI device used for couple counselling.

The premise sounds like it could come from an episode of Black Mirror and while the story doesn’t particularly go as dark as one of Charlie Brooker’s tales, it shares similarity in the wit and Britishness in the script. I was astonished to learn that this was the playwriting debut of Aaron Thakar as it very much could have been written by a seasoned playwright, and only a year older than myself, at 21, Thakar has managed to outshine many older writers with a funny and heartfelt piece. Every main character felt like a real person and the chemistry between the couples was written and portrayed excellently – it was believable that these two people got together, even if they may not actually be right for each other.

Photo: Andrew Fosker

Thakar has also been very clever by including an older couple as one of the 3 couples the story focuses on is an older divorced couple who share a child. They are written with nuance and played excellently by Paul Giddins and Leslie Ash and it was clear as soon as they stepped on stage that there was a long history between the pair. My only small issue with the writing is that one of the side characters, Paulo, very much felt more like a caricature than a real person, but since he was only in the show for a very short time, it didn’t create much of an issue.

Thakar also stars as Ash, who is in a relationship with Destiny Mayer’s Lilah, who both have the most deal with in terms of the AI device and I found these to be some of the most interesting parts of the play. Unlike a lot of plays I’ve seen, the arguments felt authentic, and Mayer and Thakar played these moments exceptionally well.

Photo: Andrew Fosker

The standouts of the show had to be Ella Jarvis (also the producer) and Jake Mavis (in his stage debut). Their comedic timing was perfect, and I could see them working well as a comedic partnership in other pieces. They also had some of the most emotional moments of the show and Mavis, in particular, caused me to shed a tear in the latter end of the play. He has a very bright future ahead of him.

Overall, Artificially Yours is not a perfect piece but as a debut piece of work, it is very well put together and has the potential to go far. With its very basic set of just a few pieces of furniture, I could definitely see this touring in the future.

Artificially Yours is at Riverside Studios until 21 April 2024