And in Herman's own Pancakes, notable for the subtlety and restraint of its writing, an estranged son, Charlie (E. Christopher Clark) has two minutes of last words to share with a "host" (Galle) upon which the memories of his late father have been registered.

The show also features, delightfully, the shiny, lumbering, old-fashioned kind of robot: In Brandon Gretter's comedy Updates, the sweet and desperately needy wedding hopes of the metal-man's human girlfriend (the superb Liz O'Connell, again) are met only with error messages and destruct auto-commands — that is, until his technician outfits him with a heart. Now, there's an analogue for the ages.

Megan Grumbling can be reached

AN EVENING OF STEAMPUNK AND ROBOT THEATRE | produced by John Herman at the Players' Ring | in Portsmouth, New Hampshire | through October 10 | 603.436.8123

Randy Tompkins is the co-author of the short play Updates.

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