Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence puts non-linearity first

Moxie Theatre production gives noble attempt but characters, concision, and coherence suffer

Justin Lang and Jo Anne Glover in Watson Intelligence at Moxie Theatre
Justin Lang and Jo Anne Glover in Watson Intelligence at Moxie Theatre

The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence

  • Moxie Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Boulevard, Suite N, Rolando
  • $20 - $30

You can almost hear Eliza Merrick sing, “why can’t a man, be more like my robot?” She worked on IBM’s famous WATSON, the supercomputer that beat two past champions on Jeopardy (before the first match, the producers feared the computer could buzz too quickly; gave it a handicap). Eliza left the company on unfriendly terms. She stole her prototype, called “Watson.”

She’s programming him to serve the needy. But in the midst of a messy divorce — her controlling ex has a spy chart her moves — she decides that her needs take precedence.

Now the A.I.’s innocent. When in doubt, he asks “could you nudge me in the right direction?” But when he says “I just want to give you what you need” — hey, why not take him literally?

Madeline George has two plays currently running in San Diego: Precious Little at Innermission; and Watson Intelligence at Moxie. Both show her as an ideas-first author. Like the young Tom Stoppard, she builds characters from intricate situations, rather than from within. At times she cuts through her flashy, time-jumping presentation and sparks lively thoughts, and other times when she do go on, for cleverness’ sake.

Eddie Yaroch and Justin Lang in Watson Intelligence at Moxie Theatre

The critic Walter Kerr said “it is better to make a character than to make a point.” George should heed this advice.

If you don’t count Thomas J. Watson of IBM, after whom the supercomputer was named, the play has five Watsons: the AI prototype; Joshua Watson, Dweeb Team IT house-caller and near perfect companion for Eliza; the faithful Dr. John H. Watson of Sherlock Holmes fame (did he invent the spectacularly precise detective?); the supercomputer; and Thomas A. Watson, Alexander Graham Bell’s lab assistant — all five natural caregivers who live to serve.

One less Watson — Thomas A? — would have made the playwright’s comparisons clearer and easier to follow.

There are two Frank Merricks (three, if you link the name with John Merrick, the Elephant Man of Victorian times): the Frank of today, a vein-bulging narcissist running for City Auditor so he can “dismantle the government”; and his “prototype,” a 19th century inventor eager to build a robot-version of his wife, so he can lock the real one away.

The Watsons and Merricks iterate themes: what would an ideal companion be like (and would you even want someone that predictable)?; what happens if — when — the Technological Singularity occurs, and A.I’s are smarter than mortals?; and doesn’t the late Victorian Era, as many now point out, resemble our own?

Watson Intelligence was a nominee for the Pulitzer of 2013 (I wonder if the committee saw the play or just read it; reading makes it much easier to follow). It’s non-linear with a vengeance.

Moxie Theatre and gifted director Delicia Turner Sonnenberg smooth out most of the bumps and bounces. Jerry Sonnenberg’s set’s a marvel: brick walls move, as does a dualistic centerpiece, bed one side, desk the other, on a turntable. Gears click into place on the rear wall. Then and now flip-flop in seconds. The set does with space what the script does with time. Excellent work.

Jo Anne Glover plays all the Elizas, Eddie Yaroch the Merricks, and Justin Lang the Watsons. Along with manic leaps from character to character, the playwright gives them massive monologues that overexplain and dull momentum. Opening night had some glitches but the actors, decked in Desiree Hatfield-Buckley’s instantly changeable costumes, proved game throughout.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Stuck between two cuisines

Sushi vs BBQ
Next Article

Imperial Beach, town without pretense

Sleeping ban. sandcastle stomping, immigrant shelter, breakwater, Brian Bilbray
Justin Lang and Jo Anne Glover in Watson Intelligence at Moxie Theatre
Justin Lang and Jo Anne Glover in Watson Intelligence at Moxie Theatre

The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence

  • Moxie Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Boulevard, Suite N, Rolando
  • $20 - $30

You can almost hear Eliza Merrick sing, “why can’t a man, be more like my robot?” She worked on IBM’s famous WATSON, the supercomputer that beat two past champions on Jeopardy (before the first match, the producers feared the computer could buzz too quickly; gave it a handicap). Eliza left the company on unfriendly terms. She stole her prototype, called “Watson.”

She’s programming him to serve the needy. But in the midst of a messy divorce — her controlling ex has a spy chart her moves — she decides that her needs take precedence.

Now the A.I.’s innocent. When in doubt, he asks “could you nudge me in the right direction?” But when he says “I just want to give you what you need” — hey, why not take him literally?

Madeline George has two plays currently running in San Diego: Precious Little at Innermission; and Watson Intelligence at Moxie. Both show her as an ideas-first author. Like the young Tom Stoppard, she builds characters from intricate situations, rather than from within. At times she cuts through her flashy, time-jumping presentation and sparks lively thoughts, and other times when she do go on, for cleverness’ sake.

Eddie Yaroch and Justin Lang in Watson Intelligence at Moxie Theatre

The critic Walter Kerr said “it is better to make a character than to make a point.” George should heed this advice.

If you don’t count Thomas J. Watson of IBM, after whom the supercomputer was named, the play has five Watsons: the AI prototype; Joshua Watson, Dweeb Team IT house-caller and near perfect companion for Eliza; the faithful Dr. John H. Watson of Sherlock Holmes fame (did he invent the spectacularly precise detective?); the supercomputer; and Thomas A. Watson, Alexander Graham Bell’s lab assistant — all five natural caregivers who live to serve.

One less Watson — Thomas A? — would have made the playwright’s comparisons clearer and easier to follow.

There are two Frank Merricks (three, if you link the name with John Merrick, the Elephant Man of Victorian times): the Frank of today, a vein-bulging narcissist running for City Auditor so he can “dismantle the government”; and his “prototype,” a 19th century inventor eager to build a robot-version of his wife, so he can lock the real one away.

The Watsons and Merricks iterate themes: what would an ideal companion be like (and would you even want someone that predictable)?; what happens if — when — the Technological Singularity occurs, and A.I’s are smarter than mortals?; and doesn’t the late Victorian Era, as many now point out, resemble our own?

Watson Intelligence was a nominee for the Pulitzer of 2013 (I wonder if the committee saw the play or just read it; reading makes it much easier to follow). It’s non-linear with a vengeance.

Moxie Theatre and gifted director Delicia Turner Sonnenberg smooth out most of the bumps and bounces. Jerry Sonnenberg’s set’s a marvel: brick walls move, as does a dualistic centerpiece, bed one side, desk the other, on a turntable. Gears click into place on the rear wall. Then and now flip-flop in seconds. The set does with space what the script does with time. Excellent work.

Jo Anne Glover plays all the Elizas, Eddie Yaroch the Merricks, and Justin Lang the Watsons. Along with manic leaps from character to character, the playwright gives them massive monologues that overexplain and dull momentum. Opening night had some glitches but the actors, decked in Desiree Hatfield-Buckley’s instantly changeable costumes, proved game throughout.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Interact with Animals, On the Harbor with Hard Kombucha, Interior Design Home Tours

Events July 9-July 11, 2020
Next Article

What opera is closest to California redwoods?

Tough competing with the English and Austrians
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close