As we freewheel into the period of the self-driving automobile, we additionally go headlong right into a set of ethical dilemmas. For so long as there’s the potential of an accident, whose security ought to the system prioritise – pedestrian or passenger? Ought to it depend upon the age, quantity and profile of these concerned? Who will get to program the computer systems and the way sure are the directions?
Playwright Ben Norris takes this as a metaphor for uncertainty generally. All it takes is a line of code to have an effect on the behaviour of a automobile, simply as all it takes is a momentary determination to find out how our lives pan out.
He imagines a relationship in all its contradictory permutations, going backwards and forwards via its course. Rowan (Cassie Bradley) is a geospatial engineer, who has fought laborious for a profession that goes from maps to motor vehicles. Nic (Hannah van der Westhuysen) is a contract illustrator, whose anticapitalist life-style belies a privileged previous. They’re without delay fascinated and infuriated by one another’s values.
In a sequence of fractured scenes, snapping sharply from one to the subsequent in Sean Linnen’s icy cool manufacturing for Invoice’s Mom, the actors have skilled management over the playwright’s quickfire exchanges, turning on a sixpence from intimate to frosty as the chances play out. They make a good and convincing crew.
However for all of the briskness of the writing and fluidity of the staging beneath Holly Ellis’s cleverly easy lighting design, Autopilot is tricksy in its construction and indirect in its coding analogy. It feels much less like a full-blooded drama than a brain-teaser we’re invited to crack.