Reviewed by Natalie Low
A brand-new play with a dive into the ever-growing world of artificial intelligence, Assisted looks at what potentially could happen if you begin to heavily rely on technology. Assisted sees Jordan and Connie begin their life as a couple. The play begins with Jordan bringing Connie over to his home for the first time, and introducing her to his AI - a SIRI-inspired assistant, purely done through voice over, called Alivia. Connie is amused about Jordan’s absolute confidence that life can be organised through Alivia, and the technologies he has installed in his house – security, smart door entry, etc. The 2 embrace the convenience such technologies provide in their life.
We soon see that Connie has moved into Jordan’s house, and this is when things get more serious. Connie’s previous amusement slowly turns into incredulousness, and horror, as Jordan soon begins to over-rely on Alivia on everything through the play. As their relationship continues, she discovers that Jordan’s confidence masquerades his aggressive behaviour and needing everything to follow his plans.
The actor who plays Jordan effectively showcases luring both Connie and the audience in the beginning as someone just thrilled by the idea of AI, like most people probably were when SIRI was first introduced, and slowly as he unravels, you discover that he’s not as innocent as he seems. His journey of turning into a controlling egocentric boyfriend who is trying to mould his girlfriend into something he wants to fit into his ‘perfect’ life is creepy and scarily realistic.
Connie’s actor is fun, and cheeky, and you feel sorry for her as she begins to struggle to fit into Jordan’s “perfect” life, growing more and more unhappy as she gets stifled through the play. The actor is sensitive to the topic of being in an abusive relationship, and you feel frustrated as her attempts to leave get thwarted time and time again. There are moments through the show where the chemistry between the actors does not really shine through, causing a little confusion as to how far into the relationship the couple is in during the show.
The highlight of the show is the voiceover of Alivia – the unseen 3rd character of the show. Starting out harmless and your everyday voice-activated help, Alivia’s growth as an AI is slow and steady. Like in Spike Jonze’s Her , she begins charming, helpful, and unassuming. As an audience, you feel slightly creeped out as Alivia learns new skills. It all culminates at the end when you begin to realise that instead of assisting, Alivia has switched over to controlling.
A great commentary on the current technology scene and showcases a healthy debate on whether or not our reliance on technology might end up proving a danger for us all. Assisted is a great take on the darker side of technology reliance. The show is timely, especially after the debate about Apple’s AirTags and its use in unwanted tracking exploded on the internet not too long ago. This show should definitely be on your must-watch list when heading to the Fringe.