Solo Date follows Ho-Nein after the death of his long term partner Alain. In an attempt to regain what was lost along with Alain’s physical body, Ho-Nien invests in an operating system that resembles his late boyfriend, interacting though a projection of him on his living room wall. Do not get too attached, warns his digital personal assistant – a warning we all know too well in an age where conscious artificial intelligence is only a few decades away. As holes start to appear in the knowledge of Alain’s digital equivalent, Ho-Nien begins a journey of discovery to uncover the negative spaces left by the absence of Alain after his death.
Taiwanese born Tsai Pao-Chang is an established playwright with Solo Date being his sixth play and his experience is certainly evident in this bold take on love, betrayal and loss. As his debut at the fringe, it is a stunning homage to the limitless qualities that technology can bring to the stage. From intense character interaction to more abstract visual sequences that interweave into the narrative – the show has an elegance that sets the bar high for any theatre company using innovative technology today.
Solo Date is unlike anything else at the Fringe. Its heavy use of computer graphics and projections simulate artificial intelligence to create realistic and engaging additional characters to protagonist Ho-Nien, played by Pao-Chang himself. Although solo on stage, Alain and Ho-Nien’s digital personal assistant cleverly engulf the room, creating meaningful characters without any physical presence.
Reminiscent of the likes of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and Spike Jonze’s Her, Pao-Chang taps into our curiosity and concerns on the rapid development of artificial intelligence, and how its consequences will inevitably be integrated into our everyday lives. This is an unconventional love story between man and machine in a modern digital world. It doesn’t hold back the gory details – Pao-Chang’s writing cuts to the core of how far we go to seek out love and redemption.
This multilingual show is a triumph; an example of fantastic storytelling by an established playwright and a must see for those fascinated by the future of man’s interaction with machine.
Solo Date is playing Assembly George Square Studios until Aug 28.