Anjali (Danielle Larson) has a safe, government-issued job with limited upward mobility. Ven (Alejandro Parron) is blue-collar maintenance man with a yearning for better things. In this dystopian future, however, repairing and caring for a sex robot has its limitations. These sexual surrogates have become necessary after an unnamed disease swept thorough the population, leaving millions of dead. Human interactions and sexual activity are highly restricted, hence the creation of these safe and clean robots.
During a repair, Ven finds the robot exhibiting unusual and illegal human-like behavior. Programmed to please, the sexbot has lately developed an unusual software glitch: a post-coital propensity for crying. Which, it turns out, the clients crave. They’re even willing to pay extra. The pair strike up a restless black market relationship; she supplements her robot’s human-like repertoire of behaviors by infusing her own emotions and he brings in the high-paying clientele. “Possessiveness. Jealousy. Paranoia. Rage. What did he say? ‘Like they used to be,’ something like that.” But when the clients start asking for more, and want to pay more, Anjali must decide just how much of herself she is willing to risk to achieve success.
This production of Emilie Collyer’s play at the LBGT Center has a lot going for it. The dialogue is witty and sharp. The direction by Ryan Reynolds is simple and effective. Where the play loses its edge is in its pace. It moves far too quickly to be clear. The audience doesn’t get to develop an emotional connection with the two characters that it desperately desires. Lost is the driving urge to expand beyond the walls of Anjali’s safe apartment; the imminent threat. The story, much like the robot in the other room, feels disconnected. That’s no fault of the performers. Both actors in this dark two-hander are admirable, especially Larson who hits all the emotional marks. Anjali’s journey into imbuing her own feelings and fears into the robot is particularly engaging. Holding the mirror on herself is both curious and terrifying.
Despite the disjointed speed of the script, The Good Girl compels the audience to consider the inroads of technology, the social isolation we have in our society and the relationships we yearn for in our personal lives. This production is worth checking out. I recommend it.