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My Robot Heart (Bristol)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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‘In the photograph of this moment, we are two machines.' Penned and performed by talented Molly Naylor, My Robot Heart is a series of carefully interwoven monologues, designed to tug softly at the heartstrings and give an insight into what ‘love' is really all about.

An unusual subject inspires the play. Kenji the robot was built in Japan to test whether machines could be trained to love. The recital with Molly relaying the ‘story of the story' to the audience, putting her heart on the line about an unexplainable breakup, and easing into the hour-long production. This method, whilst unusual, enables the audience to understand the context of the performance, whilst also unavoidably warming to the whimsical narrator. The playwright investigates love in the only way she knows how, through storytelling.

The series of interlocking monologues, all performed by Molly herself, flow through characters and situations with ease. The transitions are embellished with beautiful folk and country melodies from ‘real-life' musicians The Middle Ones. The musical duo also adds a great deal of humour to the performance, helping out in a few of the more dynamic scenes.

Charmingly engaging, the production looks at love through three connecting stories, centred towards an approaching wedding. Each of the different characters is illustrated with the help of a few cleverly used props and varied staging arrangements.

Each story takes the play somewhere different during Molly's exploration of love and the emotions behind it. Each character faces a critical decision in their relationships, be them school friendships, romances or what lies in-between, and some deal with them better than others.

The performance is beautifully written, and performed in third person. The exquisite flourishes of detail shine through in detailed characterisation, which is well observed and playful. First we are introduced to Harry, the schoolboy, who is afraid of the dark and water, and really wants to be cool. Next comes Eliza, whose looming marriage to fiancé Mark has put her head in a complete muddle. Finally, we're introduced to Jack, the keen whiskey drinker, who is finding love again in his last years of life.

The descriptive imagery and careful analogies are what make the play so unique. From mulling over the necessary amount of time you should wait to leave a person's house after running over his or her dog, to representing the stage of life you are in via the wardrobe you own, the show has the audience recognising themselves from the very beginning through the wordsmith's sharp observations.

Sole actress, Molly creates a performance like no other, displaying astounding diversity in what is essentially an hour-long monologue. The gifted performer engages effortlessly with the audience, helping them to develop a personal attachment to each character and leaves them questioning what stage of life they are at. Are you just starting out, with that wardrobe with the weird stain on it, or are you exactly where you have always aimed to be, owning the beautiful antique, which fits perfectly into the corner?

A heart-warming tale of love and loss, My Robot Heart is an investigation into the workings of adoration, romance and friendship. Molly's self-proclaimed lack of scientific knowledge meant that this was not a scientific investigation but despite claims that love is routed in fluctuations of serotonin levels, the romantic in me is content to believe that love never really is scientific, making this the most accurate look into affection there is.