ELIZA’s Adventures in the Uncanny Valley

“A theatrical delight, seriously smart, with a hint of science sexy….” The Arts Review

“More than any other theater troupe I can think of, Pan Pan finds the soul-muddling angst in the Internet age, when computers with cameras and microphones instantly serve up private lives for public consumption.” Ben Brantley, New York Times

“An example of a performance that shows how theatre is a magic-box and how the audience needs to play with it, use their imagination, and most importantly: think and consider.” Larissa Brigatti Tn2 Magazine

Nominated for two Irish Times Theatre awards.

ELIZA’s Adventures in the Uncanny Valley explores what it is to be human, how artificial intelligence interferes or modifies natural human characteristics and scrutinises what is real and what is illusion, artificial or not.

In the early 1960s, MIT developed artificial intelligence software called ELIZA, its title a direct reference to Shaw’s Pygmalion. ELIZA made certain kinds of natural language conversations between humans and computers possible. Our ELIZA is sent into an anonymous motel, where she interacts with four characters who are all mysteriously booked into the same room. Some of them seem to be barely alive, others too much so, and others may not be real. We are observers to a test: ELIZA is both learning from and assessing these individuals. In a series of scripted scenes, they explore love, death, metaphysics, evil and evolution, probing the points in our society where boundaries may be on the verge of disintegrating.

ELIZA’S Adventures in the Uncanny Valley is the search for a perfect, ‘scripted’ performance. Our ELIZA’s digital self and physical self-blur but will lead her to evolve into a more magical world, into imagination and the stratum of her true self. But of course Intelligent response is a trick. It all has to be scripted…..can a Robot write poetry?

The concept of the uncanny valley suggests that humanoid objects which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit uncanny, or strangely familiar, feelings of eeriness and revulsion in observers. They remind us that they are immortal and that we are going to die.


ELIZA:  Genevieve Hulme-Beaman

Marvin: Andrew Bennett

Sophia: Amy Molloy

Mrs Higgins: Jane Mc Grath

Eric: Dylan Tighe


Written by Eugene O’Brien and Gavin Quinn

Directed by Gavin Quinn

Designed by Aedín Cosgrove

Music by Si Schroeder

Movement Director Katherine O’ Malley

Dramaturg Nicholas Johnson

Photography Ros Kavanagh


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