The Hope Theatre
The guy sitting next to me is a bit weird. He keeps looking over at me and my mate and kind of… smiling? Or is he sneering? I try to say hi, but he doesn’t really know what to say back. There’s something not quite right about him, but I can’t put my finger on it. But before I can figure him out the lights go down and the play begins.
And this guy stands up! My suspicions are confirmed, there was something different about him: he’s an artificial intelligence named Steve (played by legit human Jack Cray). Steve and his partner Evie (an equally mortal Hannah Adams) are in the final stages of training before being sent to England to ingratiate seamlessly with the regular human population. We Wrote A Show is Steve’s way of telling us that – in true Illuminati style – behind every major event in human history a wider alien force has had a hand in our fate. Over the next hour we witness the finishing touches of their training as they learn the true nuances of being English. They’ll master the art of saying sorry, appreciate the beauty of a good queue and even touch on existential dread along the way.
It’s a quality premise and the show is packed with amusing material. As Cray and Adams ably lead us through a series of sketches it’s clear they’re really enjoying themselves – making it a joy a to watch. The piece is at its best when driving at the humour behind mundane human activity, the performers frequently taking the show’s tone into the toe-curlingly awkward. A section in which Steve and Evie practice having friends over for dinner is particularly memorable, as the guests (selected from the audience) are offered soup and fellatio within moments of sitting down. Other moments in which the characters attempt normal human routines – such as brushing their teeth – but with catastrophic misunderstandings left me crying with laughter.
The audience interaction is a real strength. At one point I’m up on stage myself straining to model perfect queueing form and even offering advice on small talk. The production manages some moments of introspection amid the hilarity, as we wonder what it really means to be human – it can’t just be perfect queue etiquette, right? With some more work, We Wrote A Show could be a really punchy piece, blending the tight humour with more insight. Refinement of the narrative that Steve has actually written the show we are watching would have aided this, I feel. The bows over, a line develops to exit the theatre. I find myself over-analysing the way I’m joining the queue – am I doing this right? – and realise that Cray and Adams have achieved that most human of things: laughing at ourselves. We Wrote A Show is a sharp and witty production, highlighting humanity’s oddities and idiosyncrasies with skilful humour.
Written by Jack Cray and Hannah Adams
We Wrote A Show plays at The Hope Theatre until 11 August. Further information and bookings can be found here.