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★★ Artificial Intelligence Improvisation Review - By Abi Whitefield


Artificial Intelligence Improvisation has been performed since 2016, but with the rise in fear about AI in the news over the last six months, it's likely to be piquing the interest of a wider audience than usual at this year’s fringe. It brings together robotics research and comedy, proving a novel idea. The cast mentioned that AI isn’t very good at being creative at the beginning of the show, which perhaps should have been a word of warning from the start.


This show is largely run by a host who pulls the show together, with an assortment of six improvisers pulled in and out of various scenes. These scenes include a speed dating situation, a robot reaching its dreams, the creation of a PowerPoint, and a game of human vs robot in the writing of a poem. The star of the show is clearly Alix, the AI robot who produces speech in response to human conversation. This speech appears to be moderated by the cast members, but it isn’t really ever explained.


Unfortunately, Artificial Intelligence Improvisation demonstrates what gives improv a bad name. The random mix of games and scenes leads to a stilted and awkward performance, which is made even worse by the robot's lack of ability to be particularly funny. The show is entertaining in parts, with some mild audience participation, but often scenes were stopped just as they were beginning to get entertaining.


The show is also somewhat confusing, with the robot not visible to all audience members and the use of earpieces to make some of the improvisers voice the AI’s words not always making it clear who is human and who is representing the robot. Quite simply, the robot makes this show worse. But maybe that’s proving the point that AI isn’t as clever as we think it is?


Artificial Intelligence Improvisation runs at Gilded Balloon Teviot until the 27th of August. Buy tickets here: https://tickets.gildedballoon.co.uk/event/14:4566/

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