For anyone wanting to watch Electric Rosary I want to warn you that there is much more to see than you have any right to expect.
That’s generally because, if you are like me, and prefer to shy away from knowing the narrative to most plays, but learn in the watching without too many preconceptions, In this instance, I expect that you will be truly delighted by the way this Tim Foley written gem pans out.
There are different strands, but mostly it's a universal truth that human kind are born, are raised and at some place down the track, then become ‘long in the tooth’.
That final thought sums up the elderly nuns at St Grace’s Convent, but also taps into this modern age, where times are always changing, but when it meets with inertia, there’s sometimes a negative impact on younger minds who feel they might have something meaningful to contribute.
Our elderly nun, Mother Elizabeth (Jo Mousley), sees fit to introduce Artificial Intelligence to th econvent in the form of a local authority funded robot called Mary (Saraja-Lily Ratnavel). However, the change in dynamic forces the nuns both young and old, to face up to their own crippling inertia, experienced after the convent school shut and their teaching roles were lost.
With Mary now on the scene, that relevance is sorely tested to the ultimate as the older nuns embark on sniping at the new recruit, which is capable managing any of the community’s tasks, to the point where Mary arrived one morning with a contraption that boasts six mops attached, to clean the convent floor more speedily.
Although a funny play, it does get much darker in parts, as it makes us question our own role in life and what artificial intelligence might do to – or for us, as it more fully takes over.
The opponents of artificial intelligence will undoubtedly bemoan the loss of our traditional roles, but like it or not, the younger Theresa (Saraja-Lily Ratnavel) embraces the new robot and treats it like one of her sister colleagues. The robot takes a liking to Theresa and then emotions and feelings about religion and other key issues are raised between it and others.
This is one hell of a thought provoking play, which is cemented at the conclusion. when the people of the village, take it on themselves to attempt to become the modern day Luddites and attempt to stand in the way of ‘progress’.
Great performances from all of the cast including: Philippa (Suzette Llwellyn), Constance (OlwenMay),and the child (Yandass Ndlovu).
Splendidly directed by Jaz Woodcock Stewart, who helped create the feeling that the nuns were under attack from an insidious evil on the outside, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Electric Rosary plays until May 14 at The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.