Giant Invisible Robot
nytheatre.com review by Daniel Kelley
March 3, 2008
Giant Invisible Robot is a testament to the power of theatre to do very much with very little. Writer and performer Jayson McDonald, with few costumes, fewer props, and barely a song played for transitions, is able to use his considerable gifts as a writer and performer to create relatable characters and tell a compelling human story in an imaginative way.
Giant Invisible Robot is a series of monologues that tell the story of a shy young boy who befriends a Giant Invisible Robot—built for destruction. We follow the boy from his childhood—boyishly trying to explain Star Wars to the robot—to his adulthood, where he poignantly tries to explain the robot's existence to a psychiatrist in order to save his job. Interspersed throughout are character monologues from various perspectives in the world of the robot—a superhero taking a break from fighting the robot to tell kids to stay in school (unless you're in an awesome band), a scientist deconstructing the origins of the robot, or even a monologue by the robot himself. In fact, the robot's monologue about his place in the world is the most compelling most of the piece—it is very simply realized, incredibly theatrical, and startlingly poetic.
McDonald is a versatile performer—each character comes alive with his own variety of physical and vocal quirks. And while his comic characters are delivered with flare and impeccable timing, at several points in the piece he is called upon to deliver dramatically, delving into the psychology of the central character. He does so with equal skill, showing the depth of his abilities as a writer/performer.
There are a few points where Giant Invisible Robot seems to lose its way—reintroducing a character who doesn't need another monologue, for instance—but these moments are few and far between, and McDonald always seems to find his way back on course in the end.
Giant Invisible Robot has everything: it's a science fiction story that's a family drama that's a coming-of-age story that's a love story featuring nerdy boys and superheroes, scientists and noir detectives, generals, psychologists, the woman from upstairs and, of course, a Giant Invisible Robot. Go and see because, honestly, what's not to like?