You've been transported to the lush woods of Laurelhurst Park. A tent sits in front of you, from which emerges... your girlfriend!
"Hey, sugar lips," she says. "I'm working on a top secret robot project." She points; there's a silvery robot there that somehow you hadn't noticed before. Weird.
"This is Cook-Bot," she continues. "He's a communication droid I've created to make contact with extraterrestrials. He also cooks. Hey, let's power him up and see what he can do!"
You stare at her.
• If you believe your girlfriend and want to power up Cook-Bot click here
•If you don't believe her, and would rather unplug Cook-Bot click here
• If you want to read a theater review about a girl who REALLY built herself a robot, keep reading.
Rolin Jones' clever, fluffy play The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow follows Jennifer Marcus (Sue Jean Kim), a 22-year-old computer genius whose OCD prevents her from leaving her adopted parents' home in LA. After fighting with her mom (Valerie Stevens), she sets out to build a robot, "Jenny Chow" (Ka-Ling Cheung), to send to China and track down her real mother.
For a while Jones' play floats on Jennifer's arsenal of interesting cyber-connections (all played with cartoonish zeal by Kevin Rich), including a Mormon missionary, and Euro-crazy robotics scientist. As Jennifer's friend, Todd, Craig Marker's warm rendition of a southern California pothead is also a highlight.
Unfortunately, as directed by Kim Rubinstein, Chow's pacing feels like a bad sitcom, and the dramatic episodes like a bad soap opera. It's hard to tell where Jones' underwritten source material ends and Portland Center Stage's mediocre production begins, but either way, be like Jennifer and stay in your bedroom for this one.