The Pacific Conservatory Theatre presents The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, a loving tribute and modern cautionary tale dedicated to the people and machines upon which we all depend, from March 8-25 at the Severson Theatre (800 S. College Dr., Santa Maria).
Madeleine George’s witty, time-hopping play follows the tales of four Watsons: Watson the trusty sidekick to Sherlock Holmes, Watson the loyal engineer who built Bell’s first telephone, Watson the unstoppable super-computer, and Watson a present-day, amiable techno-dweeb looking for love.
On the surface, the play explores the relationships between people and their technology, but at its heart, the play is all about intimate human relationships. “It’s about this fundamental human wish to be open to, and vulnerable to, and dependent on, other people without risk. And, obviously that’s impossible. People are unpredictable and terrifying and mortal,” the author explains. “In order to have what relationships will bring you, which is arguably everything that’s worth having in the world, you have to experience unbearable things.”
George describes the characters in her play as representational of three diseased forms of relationships. “I feel like the three characters are in some ways living embodiments of the three ways that we can go murderously wrong with other people. Dominate them, try to control them; withdraw from them, let them shrivel up, deprived of contact with us; or merge with them and in so doing destroy the separateness that creates companionship. So that’s Merrick, Eliza, and Watson.”
The Watson Intelligence is directed by Kitty Balay, an experienced actress-turned-director with roles in over 80 PCPA productions under her belt. Balay sees this production—the second one she’s directed for PCPA—as an opportunity to explore “yearning for a warm connection with other people, and how sometimes we find it easier to fill that need with cold technology.”
She explains, “Technology can offer us instantaneous gratification in a way that a person often can’t. With our phones in our pocket, we are able to connect to the world, our kids, our moms, in an instant. We can ignore the messages from the people we don’t want to talk to. It gives us the power to choose connection or distance from the people in our lives. We can hold in our hands a device that gives us a sense of control in a world where we increasingly feel out of control.”
Please note The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence contains mature themes and adult language.
For tickets and more information, visit pcpa.org.
— Jessica Morelli