When I was first invited to see an “erotic comedy
mystery,” I was intrigued—what makes an erotic comedy mystery an erotic comedy
mystery? What is the perfect ratio of
sexy, funny, and mysterious, and will Aphrodite
2 be able to pull it off? I went to
the MET Theatre to find out, not really knowing what I was in store for.
Once I arrived, I headed downstairs to the Great Scott
Theatre. I waited in the lobby, listening
to pop classics such as “Downtown” and “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” in
German. The music selection was both a
nod to the German playwright Cornelius Schnauber, who wrote Aphrodite 2, and a way to set the mood
of the show. Although the show started
nearly a half an hour after it was due to begin, the cheery music managed to
keep me in a good mood during the wait.
It’s hard to make German sound cheery.
I got a pretty good look at the set; viewers must cross
the stage to get to their seats. The set
was simply decorated, the focus being the mishmash of scientific formulas
written on the chalkboards on the walls.
The intimate setting allowed me to really feel like I was in the room
with the characters, witnessing their stories first hand.
This futuristic, Frankenstein inspired story begins
with Valdemar Hummer, an expert in robotics (played by Joseph Beck), creating
an android female companion for his friend, Emmanuel Gipfel (David Bickford), a
nuclear physicist whose past three wives have died under questionable
circumstances. The humanoid’s designation,
Aphrodite 2 (Fiona Bates), suggests her erotic capabilities. But, in addition to physical beauty, she has
a wise and lively intellect, with a vast array of knowledge on a variety of
subjects. However, (bet you didn’t see
this coming) problems start to arise when a person plays God. Aphrodite 2 begins to develop a personality
of her own, Dr. Gipfel can’t keep up with his new robot, and Dr. Hummer gets
Translated by Anne Adams, Aphrodite 2 definitely got the comedy part right. It possesses an interesting mix of downright
silly, slapstick humor and intellectual, sharp humor that makes you think about
the larger issues such as gender roles in society and what it means to be
human. The production struck a good
balance between “thinking while you watch” and “mindless watching.”
One of the silliest parts was when Joseph Beck really
threw everything he’s got into his dance to Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack”
(yes, I’m being serious). It was hilarious
but threw me out of the story by how random it seemed. It didn’t quite fit with the rest of the
play, although I appreciated Beck’s dancing skills.
Besides Aphrodite 2’s lingerie and flirtiness, there
really isn’t anything erotic about this play except a tiny bit of PG-13 rated
vulgarity. When the characters retreat
to the bedroom, the audience only hears the oohs and ahhs of lovemaking, which
are so exaggerated that everyone sitting with me is cracking up or smirking. That’s the closest thing to “erotic” we see
Aphrodite 2 is clearly the star in this show, which is
what one would assume if the play is named after her. Fiona Bates commands the stage and owns the
part. Bates-as-android is young, beautiful,
sexy, and full of life. The most
entertaining scene, where she acts as both the prosecutor and the defense
during a mock-trial for her lover Dr. Gipfel, really shows off Bates’ acting
Although the mystery made up a large part of the plot,
in the end, it really didn’t seem to matter at all. The larger message of the story revolved
around the consequences of playing God.
I was entertained by Aphrodite 2’s sassiness, but I was never truly
convinced that she was a robot in beginning or a human in the end, which made
that message fall flat. I was expecting
a Stepford Wife whose realization of her own artificiality would take center
stage, but with all the shenanigans, hanky-panky, and mystery crowding each
other in one short play, I wasn’t able to feel the emotions I wanted to feel.
If you want to be next to the action, with the actors
making eye contact with you, and with you sitting so close you could touch
them, go to the Great Scott Theatre and see Aphrodite
2 while you still have time. You
will be laughing and having fun, while pondering a range of topics, like
artificial intelligence, relationship dynamics, and the human experience. Not a bad mix.
Aphrodite 2 runs until June 17th. It plays on Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at
3 p.m. The MET Theatre is located 1089
N. Oxford Ave., Hollywood, CA 90029.
Parking is available (fee charged) ½ block east of the venue on Santa
Monica Boulevard in the East Scheib lot.
Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students and
seniors. For reservations, call (800)
838-3006 or visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/245019.