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Quasimondo’s robotic variety show

Feb. 21, 2013
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The Quasimondo's Robot Cabaret is a fun, little hit-or-miss variety show with a sci-fi robot theme to it. Featuring comedy, drama, dance and musical theater, aspects of the show aspire to more than the sum of their parts, but never quite achieve a deeper fusion.

Early on in the show, we are introduced to Michael Guthrie in the role of a human cabaret MC who was raised by robots. In the world of this play, machines are slowly replacing humans. It's brutal outside, but here in the cabaret, organisms and synthetic machines can cast aside their differences and share the same space. It's a clever idea amplified by Michael Weiss and Ben Yela as a pair of advanced androids doing particularly insensitive stand-up that makes fun of us messy organic-types.

The potential here was to present a variety show conceived by artificial intelligence with highly advanced androids onstage, pretending to be clunky, clanky robots to try to make us few humans okay with the fact that we're becoming obsolete. Instead of going in that direction, the Quasimondo chose a much denser sci-fi concept involving a virus that is delivered largely in exposition.

While the central premise of the cabaret misses its potential, there are a few acts that feel remarkably inspired. Of particular note is a dance with Jessi Miller as a robot getting plugged-in via three long extension cords. It’s a tender, graceful moment that (perhaps inadvertently) plays on our affection for all those portable electronic devices in our lives in constant need of being plugged-in and recharged.

The Quasimondo's Robot Cabaret runs through March 2 at The Milwaukee Fortress, 100 A E. Pleasant St. For ticket reservations, visit brownpapertickets.com/event/323082


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