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The Theatreguide.London Review

Anthropology
Hampstead Theatre     Autumn 2023

Lauren Gundersonís light mystery story Anthropology centres on a mother and her two daughters in San Francisco.

Merril (Anna Buring), a software engineer, is grieving the disappearance and assumed death of her sister Angie.

She is not sleeping very well, has broken up with her girlfriend Raquel (Yolanda Kettle), and is out of sorts with her mother Brin (Abigail Thaw)

She has resisted ideas of conventional therapy for the comfort and company of a humorous and friendly chatty digital version of her sister Angie (Dakota Blue Richards) that soon has Merril laughing.

Before long, her programmed companion is working on getting Merril back with her girlfriend and having her mother round for a chat.

And since there is that outstanding mystery of the missing Angie the police have given up looking for, our AI sleuth decides this issue must also be resolved. Who needs humans when you can have an all-purpose entertaining robot to while away the hours?

The easy banter, the good-natured characters, and the familiar pattern of a family troubled by guilt connected to childhood abuse combine to make this a watchable ninety-five-minute performance that is also positive about the prospects of AI robots without diving into topical controversy. 

The show is engagingly performed by a fine cast, though the plotting and direction are rushed in the last twenty minutes and the ending itself too predictably sentimental.


Keith McKenna

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Review  of Anthropology -  Hampstead Theatre 2023

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