Instructions for Correct Assembly review: A derivative play that projects Pinocchio


This is the central idea of Thomas Eccleshare’s engaging if derivative play that projects Pinocchio – where the boundaries blur between an inanimate object and a flesh-and- blood boy – into the era of artificial intelligence.

Max (Jane Horrocks) and Hari (Mark Bonnar) are disappointed by the failings of their son Nick (Brian Vernel), a drug-taking dropout and social pariah with no ambition beyond scoring his next fix.

So they place an order for an artificial simulacrum they can programme into the perfect son.

He/It arrives in bits and they follow the instructions like flat-pack Frankensteins to construct Jan (Vernel, again) who can be manipulated by remote control to adjust his attitudes, speech, behaviour and politics.

It’s DIY AI.

Hari and Max sometimes forget Jan is not real as they mould him and the neighbours, whose daughter was fond of Nick, are also impressed by his authenticity.

But then matters take a turn for the worse and Jan becomes completely uncontrollable.

The conveyor belt scene changes literally keep everything moving along but despite the jerky, robotic choreography is very old hat and in spite of some good jokes and clever illusions, such as Jan’s talking head on a bench, Instructions For Correct Assembly is never quite as alarming as it should be.