Jan 6, 2019

The first fully airconditioned robot with sunroof and automatic transmission -- Generation 5 -- teaser

We're progressing, actually, we're already writing the second scene of Act II. Okay, here's Scene 4 of Act I. Eliza has fled the premises to avoid a confrontation with the repo-woman. And now the bell rings. One more thing: Today is Eliza's 50th birthday. And one more thing: Robert is Eliza's household factotum. Previous scene here.


ROBERT is watering the potted plant. Doorbell rings. ROBERT doesn’t answer the door, instead moves to hide behind the potted plant. The doorbell rings again, then there’s the sound of a key working the lock and the door swings open. A life-sized box, wrapped as a serious gift (ribbon, bow tie), is pushed into the room by a fresh-looking UTILITY BOT clad in yellowish, printed latex that suggests the appearance of an assembly line automaton. To complete the picture, the bot’s head is topped by an elastic antenna that wiggles back and forth as he moves. He’s followed by STEVE FRANKENSTEIN JUNIOR. STEVE is roughly ELIZA’s age, and he looks the part---the part of the founder and CEO of FRANKENSTEIN GLOBAL.

Limbo by Bill Domonkos

STEVE (strides about the stage—-too self-absorbed to notice ROBERT at first, American or Transatlantic accent): Robbie? Robbie! This is you! (Slaps ROBERT’s shoulder, who’s almost floored by the gesture.) You’re immortal!
ROBERT (American accent): Master!
STEVE (looks around): So, my spies were correct. Eliza is still living here.
ROBERT (Queen’s English again): Yes, master, Dr. Gillespie is still living here.
STEVE: Twenty-five years, and still the old Robbie. Man! Let me have a good look. (He holds ROBERT by his arms and looks him over, visibly unimpressed). I programmed you with my own hands, pal. You were my original prototype. You! The first fully airconditioned household assistant with sunroof and automatic transmission…and a handle to throw away. I called you ‘Frankenstein’. But then Eliza told me that ‘Frankenstein’ wasn’t the name of the monster, but the name of the guy who created the monster, what’s his name…Peter Cushing, Gene Wilder, Benedict Cumberbatch…yes, ‘Frankenstein’, haha. That’s how I got my moniker, and the name for my company. And you became ‘Robbie’.
ROBERT: I’m ‘Robert’ now, master.
STEVE: ‘Robert’. Yes, sure, Eliza with her sense of decorum. Robert!
ROBERT: Can I offer you a refreshment, master?
STEVE: Drop that master-shit and call me ‘Steve’.
ROBERT: Yes, sir.
STEVE: No refreshment, I’m in a hurry.
ROBERT: Indeed, sir.
STEVE: Where’s Eliza?
ROBERT: She is away on urgent business, I’m afraid.
STEVE: So, she is out? On her birthday? For how long?
ROBERT: Undefined, sir.
STEVE: That’s a pity. I’ve slotted Eliza between the tea at Buckingham Palace and the fireside chat at Downing Street. Yes, still the same queen. Prince Charles was at her side…well, he tried. And for later, my handlers scheduled an impromptu doctor’s appointment. Explain this to her, will you.
ROBERT: Most certainly, sir.
STEVE: She’s still…she hasn’t changed, I guess…she’s still…
ROBERT: …Yes, sir…
STEVE: …High maintenance.
ROBERT (shyly): Mmhmm.

I commissioned some expensive consultancy to come up with a name, a name like ‘Apple’, or ‘Google’, or ‘Shakespeare’, and they came up with ‘Dolly’.

STEVE: Well, I’ll be out of here soon. You know why I’m here?
ROBERT: I’m a humble machine, sir. I am not supposed to fully comprehend the matters of the heart of sentient human beings such as Dr. Gillespie…and split the infinitive in the meantime.
STEVE: With her bedroom door wide-open, haha. She was quite…outgoing…in my days. We were together for a while. I had come over with a scholarship for the Imperial College. Well, we were together, and then we were not. High maintenance. Occasionally we reconciled. It was her twenty-fifths birthday and I had her given YOU, my master thesis at the college, as a birthday present. I made a promise then. We were reminiscing…(points at the bedroom)…on that canopied bed…we were talking like the Beatles, you know…‘when you’re sixty-four’…I would return to America the next day…and I promised (interrupts himself)…this also concerns you, Robbie. You will be relieved to hear that your ordeal at her side will soon be over…So, I promised her to show up at her fiftieth birthday with a shiny, exciting, awesome…with the latest version of my future line of household robots. Then I went back to America and started Frankenstein Global with your blueprints. And since I was scheduled for the fireside chat at Number Ten, I had to hop over anyhow. And so…(he points at the box). Promise made, promise delivered. GENERATION FIVE…And its name is…Dolly. (To the box) DOLLY?

DOLLY (from inside the box, somewhat unnerving falsetto voice, unenthusiastic): Ye-es.
ROBERT: If I may ask, sir, why ‘Dolly’.
STEVE: I commissioned some expensive consultancy to come up with a name, a name like ‘Apple’, or ‘Google’, or ‘Shakespeare’, and they came up with ‘Dolly’. (He knocks at the box). Dolly, you like your name?
DOLLY (still unenthusiastic): Ye-es.
STEVE (to ROBERT): You can change its name, of course, or Eliza can.
ROBERT: ‘It’, you say. Not he or she?
STEVE: We’ll Robbie, I’m sorry to say, but you’re an ‘it’ as well. Eliza can change that, too, if she wants. Dolly is full-flex DEEP LEARNING, and it’s totally adaptable. And…it’s gender-positive, if required…or allowed. Do they allow sex with robots in Little England? It’s outlawed in most American states.
ROBERT: It’s permitted under certain conditions. A very complicated law. Causing much headache.
STEVE: Eliza will find out, I trust. (To the PORTER BOT): Buzz, buzz.
PORTER BOT: Buzz, buzz (hands a THICK TOME to STEVE).
STEVE: There’s only one minor problem. Dolly is still a prototype. Eliza may have to consult the manual occasionally (hands the tome to ROBERT). Here it is. Seven hundred pages. The thrill of high maintenance; it serves her right. (To the PORTER BOT) Buzz, buzz.
PORTER BOT (Out of nothing, conjures something that looks suspiciously like a large screw driver): Buzz, buzz (hands the tool to STEVE).
STEVE (transfers the driver to ROBERT): If there’s a problem with Dolly, use this tool. Consult the manual and unscrew the back plate.

(ROBERT steps back, manual under the arm, and toys conspicuously with the screw driver.)

PORTER BOT: Buzz, buzz.
STEVE (to ROBERT): The bot needs a ladder. You have a ladder, don’t you?

(STEVE points at the ladder still leaning against the wall. ROBERT hands it to the porter bot which leans it against the box. The box falls over.)

DOLLY (still inside the box, always falsetto): Ouch!
STEVE (with questionable enthusiasm): Did you hear this? Soo natural. Soo adaptive. Soo fast. It took eons to program this. I had to get involved personally, but then…I love writing code; only thing I really love, except for Eliza perhaps, which was a long time ago. Hold on…I forgot…I also love writing romance novels.
ROBERT: Romance novels?
STEVE: When I have sleepless nights. I write one novel per night. (To the UTILITY BOT) Buzz, buzz.

UTILITY BOT (conjures two wrapped book-sized parcels out of nowhere, hands both to STEVE): Buzz, buzz.

STEVE: I need only one (hands the parcel to ROBERT). For Eliza. The other one is for the Prime Minister. (Deposits the other on the sideboard, absent-mindedly…To DOLLY in the box, in the uncaring tone of workplace civility) Dolly, you okay?
DOLLY (utterly unconvincing): Ye-es.

(STEVE’s phone rings, he answers.)

STEVE (to the phone): Yes, Prime Minister. No, Prime Minister…in a minute, Prime Minister. (To the PORTER BOT) Buzz, buzz. (To ROBERT) We’re late. Where’s the window? There was a large window in her bedroom, wasn’t it? I always wondered. (ROBERT points through the sliding doors at the large window). Open it for us, will you. (To PORTER BOT) Buzz, buzz. (The PORTER BOT’s antenna starts to blink).

(With an unnerving noise, an iffy, apparently airborne contraption---a carrier drone---appears and hovers outside the window. The porter bot helps STEVE onto the drone, which disappears with him into the thin air. PORTER BOT spreads his arms and jumps off the window sill, antenna still blinking.)

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