29 April 2023
PLAYAI (Riverside Studios) Review
It was the authorship of the this play that caught my eye. PlayAI is a project written, with numerous adjustments, improvements, and rewrites, by ChatGPT, which is one of the more popular AI models out there. It seems to be the director Matt Bond’s vehicle to get a foothold in the conversation about the future of theatre industry. The play was written by ChatGPT for a specific set of 6 cast members and included set instructions and direction notes.
The plot starts out sensibly, but then veers into ridiculous. I don’t want to give too much away here, but, broadly, it’s about a person working at a hi-tech company discovering some discrepancies and figuring out that her boss is up to no good. As more people get drawn into the investigation (another coworker, his wife, a journalist, then another coworker), the story essentially loops in on itself and loses touch with reality a bit. The text itself is extremely low-quality: lots of phrases are repeated, dialogue doesn’t flow, characters have inconsistent traits, etc.
All of these things could be forgiven: after all, I bought the ticket to see a bit of an experiment. Unfortunately, the cast actually makes it worse. I don’t know how much stage direction was given by ChatGPT, but Bond was the de facto director, so I’m going to go ahead and lay this at his door. The constant eye-rolling, hand-wringing, and speaking like a budget version of William Shatner made the text that wasn’t too great to start with feel much-much worse.
If this is the future of theatre, I don’t want to be in it.
Cheapskate enjoyment value: £1 (purely for the novelty).
Bonus: There was a Q&A after the performance I attended. People’s optimism never ceases to amaze me: AI will be a force for good, writers will use it only to assist with things like idioms and colloquialisms, etc. Come one. The minute AI is able to produce anything passable for half-way decent play (and I’m not quite sure we’ll ever get there), everyone will just be looking to cash in on it.