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R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots)

An act of literary criticism should always be an act of love, according to Czech author Max Brod, in that critics should praise authors they admire and simply ignore those they consider unworthy. Good advice I gleaned from Peter Kussi’s introduction to the works of Czech author Karel Capek. Whether or not you believe this dictum should apply to acts of dramatic criticism, let me tell you about Capek’s play, R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), Part 7 of Fraudulent Productions’ History of Paratheatre series: Decades before C-03P0 and R2-D2 came on the scene, Capek neologized “robot,” a play on the Czech word for forced laborer or serf. In an allegory of industrial-era society, Capek’s seemingly prognosticative 1920 play inspirits factory-built robots who kill off the human race while developing human feelings like anger, love, and horniness. I doubt there was as much spandex in the 1921 Broadway premiere, but as FraudProd continues to produce the neglected gems of world theater, let’s be thankful for the opportunity to experience what our counterparts of 78 years ago were flocking to see. Plus, FraudProd’s robots look good in spandex. Above all, the Naked Gun-meets-Animal Farm melodramedy of this classic is Capek’s eerie, timely commentary on the perils of technology and employers’ disregard for the rights and humanity of their workers. Capek pissed off both Hitler and Stalin, so he must have been doing something right. At 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, to Saturday, Oct. 9, at the District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. $10-$15. (202) 462-7833. (Amanda Fazzone)