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Artificially Yours | Riverside Studios

Artificially Yours is the debut play written by Aaron Thakar, and directed by Hannah Mcleod. The play follows three couples, the divorced middle aged Pippa (Leslie Ash) and Martin (Paul Giddings), the "opposites attract" Ellie (Ella Jarvis) and Noah (Jake Mavis), and the steady Lilah (Destiny Mayers) and Ash (Aaron Thakar), as they all handle the highs and lows of their relationships with the help of the AI couple guidance technology "Agape" (Katherine Moran).

Thakar has done a fantastic job in developing each character and their romantic relationships. With engaging, interesting and well thought out plots for each couple, the audience are hooked into each story and wanting more. Pippa and Martin's dilemma about prioritising their children, along with an undertone of old feelings stirring, makes for a really thoughtful, moving and mature story that the two performers handle with ease. Lilah and Ash bring a new perspective to the show with their ambitious and forward thinking plans, with conflict arising in how each approaches this. Ella and Noah present an entertaining couple with a relationship that ebbs and flows and becomes a beautiful commentary about humanity. 

The cast are immensely strong, and play off one another well. Mayers, as Lilah, really captures the anguish and pride of becoming more successful professionally but sacrificing in her personal life. Thakar is a charming Ash, and has a knack for appeasing audience apprehensions about his actions. Jarvis does a fantastic job as the more expressive and emotional Ellie. Ash as Pippa and Giddings as Martin are brilliantly cast with a believable chemistry and sense of longing for the old days. Paired perfectly, both deliver grounded performances, enhanced by the charming plot. 

The show's standout performer is Jake Mavis as the endearing Noah. The initial shallow and stereotypical "runner" is slowly stripped away in the show and he deftly navigates the show through its most emotionally powerful moments. A thoroughly charming performer, Mavis is an absolute delight to watch. 

The set is minimal with a coffee table, sofa and two chairs set up, and triples as multiple locations. The use of music during scene transitions helps expand on how the characters feel, but particularly stands out during moments with the AI Agape (Jeremy Zolnai-Lucas). Utilising voice recording, phone calls and a clever "quiet mode", the show is clear in bringing its world to life. 

Agape exists as an ever looming and significant presence in all of the stories. Although programmed, and often successful, to help ensure a harmonious relationship, the slow reveal of her intelligence in passing comments is a truly clever and subtle nod to the ultimate threat that she poses. Deftly avoiding the use of jumpscares or direct confrontation, the hidden possibilities hang over the show. However, Agape and her relationship with the characters is often hilarious, leading to numerical fun moments. 

Artificially Yours is an entertaining and exciting piece of theatre, that sweeps you away in the warmth of its characters and stories. It is a beautifully written and excellently performed piece of theatre that is so important to the time we live in. Thakar has used AI to remind us of our humanity. Artificially Yours is currently playing at the Riverside Studios until 21st April. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets for an honest review | photography by Andrew Fosker


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