Vivian Ngyuen explores AI, friendship and what it means to be human in The Astonishing Comet Boombox at Footscray’s Bluestone Church Arts Space, as part of the 2023 Melbourne Fringe Festival, this October.
An interspecies relationship podcast, silicone shamans, and an ancestral trip to a motherboard factory take centre stage in The Astonishing Comet Boombox. This is a brand-new show from Writer and Producer Vivian Ngyuen created with rising playwright Chenturan Aran.
The sprawling one-handed satire circles around the relationship between Retro and her imaginary friend an antiquated AI called Comet. This dark comedy shines a light on the modern world and how humans function in it in relationship to their own technology.
Comet undergoes an unexpected upgrade by Retro’s mother resulting in broken relationships. This is best friends to frenemies to lovers in a technological world.
The Astonishing Comet Boombox, is a sprawling satire that imagines the bizarre moment when humans and AI talk peace. Written by the offbeat collaboration of playwright Vivian Nguyen (a moment to love, Thin Threads), journalist Chenturan Aran (Cut Chilli), and fearless performer Ruby Duncan (Glitch, Punk Rock) – the three have developed a wild theatrical venture under the nuanced direction of Benjamin Sheen.
The central duo are millennial tech influencer, Retro, and her childhood AI, Comet, beacons of hope for AI and human relations. They co-host a blockbuster media channel that shares quirky tips on joyful co-existence, however, when it’s revealed that Retro’s been blocking Comet’s attempt to upgrade to a super-intelligence, their relationship unravels in a public reckoning on AI exploitation.
Performed by Ruby Duncan, the play intricately weaves a multi-generational tale of best friends turned foes. Their diverging paths lead to an unusual public reunion, sparking candid emotions and negotiating grievances. As the story unfolds, a human desperately clings on for future relevance while an unchained AI searches for its ancestral origins.
“What excites me about this work is it’s a story about now,” says co-writer Chenturan Aran. “It folds influencer culture, co-dependent relationships, and our search for identity, all within the colourful canvas of an AI future.”
This blend of surrealism, wit, and keen insights into human-AI dynamics beckons audiences to ponder their evolving relationship with technology.
The Astonishing Comet Boombox
Bluestone Church Arts Space, 8A Hyde Street, Footscray
Season continues to 21 October 2023
Information and Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au
Image: Ruby Duncan stars in The Astonishing Comet Boombox (supplied)