Imposters and Political Suicide Closing (Theater and Galleries) The Short List (Theater)

When: Sundays. Continues through Feb. 14 2010

Mark Chrisler credits ELIZA and PARRY as his coauthors on Imposters, and their influence is undeniably apparent. ELIZA and PARRY were two "chatterbots": computer programs, dating from 1966 and 1972, respectively, that could generate primitive forms of conversation. Their idiosyncrasies—including ELIZA’s tendency to turn everything into a question and PARRY’s preoccupation with Mob involvement in horse racing—gradually invade a dialogue between the tragic British computer genius Alan Turing and an interrogator called Nicolas Bourbaki (which is also the nom de plume of a group of mathematicians who specialized in set theory), raising the question of whether Turing and Bourbaki are human. The joke is played out before it’s over. But after a period of tedium, something else takes the joke’s place: a surprisingly vivid sense of anguish as Andrew Schoen’s Turing seems to go off program and, well, raise the question of whether he’s human. The second piece on the bill, by Chrisler alone, imagines a drunken confab between Alexei Kosygin and Lyndon Johnson on the eve of the Six-Day War. Sloppy and derivative in its pseudo-Strangelove satire, it’s not worth much. —Tony Adler

Price: $12 in advance online, $15 or pay what you can at the door

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