The Archivist at Right Brain Project | Theater review
Stephen Gawrit’s sci-fi effort gets bogged down in mechanics.
In a post-apocalyptic future where mankind has been forced to assimilate with machines, the Archivist, the last of a band of cyborg rebels, exists to protect the memories of humanity’s past and find a way to repopulate the future. The restrictions of live theater make sci-fi one of the more difficult genres to capture onstage, and a misunderstanding of those limitations prevents Gawrit’s new The Archivist from taking off. Gawrit’s nonlinear, disjointed narrative becomes increasingly difficult to follow as new ideas are thrown in before earlier ones have been fully developed, and the vacant performances from the ensemble make it even harder to connect to the material.
The problem with a cast of half-robots is that robots aren’t interesting to watch unless they’re actually machines. The appeal of robots isn’t their cold voices and stiff movement, and while the actors do admirable work capturing their characters’ emotional detachment, it’s hard to build a story on a foundation of non-feelings. In the titular role, Evan Hill’s primary direction is to yell as much as possible; his overaggressive characterization becomes repetitive quickly. Director Peterson tries her best to manage all the technical elements of the script, but the mechanical side of the production takes over the human, creating a show that walks and talks, but lacks a heart and soul.