REVIEW: THE TEST (White Bear Theatre) ★★★

The Test is a new play written and directed by Ian Dixon Potter and produced by Golden Age Theatre at White Bear Theatre in Kennington.

Dora is a talented computer scientist; she has written a code that she believes will create truly conscious artificial intelligence. She wants to try it out; her boss is understandably concerned about the possible consequences of launching a computer programme with the ability to converse and learn. Dora ignores the warning and tracks down a computer hacker, fresh out of prison, and convinces him to help her harness the power of the internet to test her code. Dora plans to use the Turing Test to assess whether her creation is able to behave as a human would. As the questions flow, we begin to wonder who is testing who and whether Dora fully understands what she has created.

Dora is played by Natasha Killam and Josh the hacker is played by Duncan Mason. The bearded hacker and the scientist with a love of Star Wars seem a little obvious as characters. These two actors share most of the stage time and work well with the dialogue between two experts in their fields. While the language gets quite technical, they make it accessible for the audience. Zara Banks plays Dora’s boss and the voice of her creation, growing with the knowledge gained from access to the entire internet.

The Test touches on lots of themes in a short time; it asks what it really means to be conscious and how much free will humans really have to choose those who are ‘in charge’.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans