There are two weeks - nine performances total - left in the run of UNIVERSAL ROBOTS at Manhattan Theatre Source. Friday and Saturday tickets are running out, with Wednesday and Thursday seats close behind, so get your tickets now.
This coming Saturday, February 28th we have added a 2PM MATINEE in addition to our remaining performances on Wednesday through Saturday, February 25-28 and March 4-7. PLEASE NOTE: ALL EVENING PERFORMANCES BEGIN AT 7:30 PM.
I think you should see this. I think you should consider seeing it this week, as next week we're going to sell out every show and we will be extra-unhappy turning folks away when there were empty chairs the third week. To support my recommendation, I offer you the following testimonials from around the internets:
"The well-directed (by Rosemary Andress) ensemble cast slides smoothly from character to character and from scene to scene, whether a play within a play, a café, or a mad scientist's basement.
At its core the play is about what it is to be human and the nature of humanity is not an easy thing to take on. Rogers definitely comes out on top and deftly weaves his complicated tale...the play wraps up in a surprising end that is anything but robotic."
"How does Rogers & Company pull this off? I think because the philosophical, historical and spiritual elements never take place at the expense of the story. This also means you don't need to enter the theatre with a doctorate in mid-20th Century history or any knowledge of the Kapeks' work or biographies to follow the play.
This truly is the stuff of Great Theatre (Title Case intended). For those who missed the workshop production, I can't stress enough that you really need to see this. "
Each little dialogue and detail that seems gratuitous at first turns out to have major consequence for the future of humanity. The play feels like an elaborate scaffolding in which every small part plays an important role in keeping the construction together"
Read Backstage on UNIVERSAL ROBOTS (admittedly, I cherry-picked here, but hey, there were genuine cherries to be picked):
"A beautifully written character, Jo falls in love with a doomed waiter and then helps create the world's first robot, Radius, in his image. Portraying her as wry and lonely in an all-male circle, [Jennifer Gordon] Thomas easily turns Jo into the play's heart and conscience as she struggles to understand what she and Capek have sprung on the world. As Radius, Jason Howard matches Thomas' performance, seamlessly transforming from a terrific imitation of a robot into a bewildered creature that doesn't understand the mercurial nature of humans. Likewise, [Esther] Barlow is a delight as the headstrong and desperate Helena and eventually a heartbreakingly naive and courageous robot."
"A great piece of theatrical writing that rivals not only the paragons of the science fiction genre, but the literary titans of theatre world (Albee, O'Neill, Williams, etc.). Go see this play. Go see this play. Go see this play!!!
This extraordinary script sings in the loving hands of its director, Rosemary Andress who seamlessly weaves the scenes together utilizing a wonderful three quarter thrust staging. I' ve seen and been in a few productions at Manhattan Theatre Source, and believe that this is one of the best seating set ups I've seen there in years.
Now, writing a play where more than four or five characters are given complete and dynamic story arcs is a Herculean feat in the literary world. Rogers and his superb cast (costumed to perfection by Nicky J. Smith) make it look easy. Jason Howard gives the performance of his career as the warm-hearted Radosh, and the heartbreaking prototype, robot Radius. As Radius, the specificity of the evolution of Howard's movements and vocal inflections had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Jennifer Gordon Thomas's portrayal of the heartbroken Jo is the other highlight of the evening. Through her stillness and emotional intensity, Thomas turns in a deeply moving performance. I was also struck by the versatility and inventiveness of Nancy Siriani as the enigmatic Rossum."
"A richly satisfying play, highly recommended to those who enjoy the work of Stoppard and Michael Frayn's recent plays.
Rogers' play is a heady brew of ideas and ethical issues, but it also packs an emotional punch, thanks to a great cast. Particularly touching are the scenes between Jennifer Gordon Thomas as Jo Čapek and Jason Howard, first as Radosh, the barkeep she fancies, and then as Radius, his robot doppelganger. David Ian Lee and David Lamberton, as Čapek and Masaryk respectively, also effectively convey the deeper humanity of their famous characters. Their scenes discussing the Christian subtext Masaryk perceives in Čapek's work are in fact, some of the highpoints of the play.
Though it addresses some pretty advanced concepts, director Rosemary Andress never lets the proceedings get bogged down in dry intellectualism. In fact, Universal seems much shorter than its actual running time."
Read NYU News on UNIVERSAL ROBOTS (more cherry-picking, but they really liked the performances):
"Jason Howard is noteworthy; he plays dual roles: cafe owner Radosh and an increasingly intelligent robot named Radius. His quiet, understated acting early on in the play allows him to play heartbreaking scenes as the story progresses, struggling to understand the world around him in such a way that we are drawn along with his painful realizations. It is one thing to watch an actor play a feeling, but it's another entirely to have the actor draw you along from one thought to the next.
Ben Sulzbach, as the good-hearted inventor Peroutka, brings simplicity and childlike honesty to the script. These two and the other well-acted characters give enough human life to the script to allow audience members to suspend their disbelief."
"Mac Rogers has taken a historically notable play—a play that was cultural currency; a play that gave us a concept we still employ daily—and turned it into something elegant, heartbreaking, and beautiful.
I wrote about the workshop production of Universal Robots last year. The cast and script are largely the same, but new director Rosemary Andress brings to the work vivid stage pictures that make the play even more spellbinding."
"Rogers re-imagined version is smart, scary at times and theatrical. Kudos to an excellent cast, that includes Jason Howard as Radius, the hard-working robot who learns how to take over the world. "
I really think you should see this play, and not not see it. I think you will feel that your time was well-spent.
The Great War has just ended. Czechoslovakia is a republic with an elected president and a thriving artistic community that includes celebrated playwright Karel Capek. But history cracks wide open when a young woman walks into Karel's life with a strange mannequin in a wheelchair… a mannequin that gets up and moves all by itself.
A science fiction thriller, love story, political allegory, redemptive tragedy and fast-paced entertainment, Universal Robots offers a compelling, alternate history of the Twentieth Century, starting with the invention of the robot in 1921 and chronicling the extraordinary consequences of that invention, which changes the world forever.
Director: Rosemary Andress Starring: Esther Barlow, Jason Howard, David Ian Lee, David Lamberton, Michelle O’Connor, Ridley Parson, Nancy Sirianni, Tarantino Smith, Ben Sulzbach & Jennifer Gordon Thomas Production Mgr: Saundra Yaklin Set Designer: Raul Abrego Lighting Designer: Kia Rogers Sound Designer: Ien Denio