“My first attempt to introduce science into the theatre was The Android Circuit, in which a cosmonaut makes love to a female android, merging human and machine. The set glittered with a rainbow film. Artificial birds twittered on the soundtrack.”
- Tom McGrath on The Android Circuit

Inspired by the work of Isaac Asimov, Phillip K. Dick and Edwin Morgan, and breaking free of the trend for realism and masculinity in Scottish theatre at the time, (a fire obviously fuelled by his own previous play, The Hard Man), McGrath lightens the tone and steps into the science fiction arena with The Android Circuit, produced by The Traverse Theatre in 1978.

“I wanted to introduce bright colours again, make use of the synthesiser as an instrument in the theatre. It seemed that the theatre was lagging behind in its reflection of technology: the “contemporary” world it was portraying was dangerously out of date.”
- Tom McGrath on The Android Circuit

Having fled a post- apocalyptic Earth, two men, Astro and his butler Sylvester, exist in comfortable isolation aboard a space capsule with a faltering power supply. Much to the dismay of Sylvester, their secluded routine, a continual loop in which they automatically perform a set of long-redundant rituals, is interrupted by the arrival of Ruby Pulse, a beautiful female android secretly requested by Astro.

“I had seen laser shows in London and had talked with artists about Holography. From somewhere I learned that the most powerful laser beam known to man was called “Ruby Pulse”. I knew that must be the name of the female character in my play.”
- Tom McGrath on The Android Circuit

This exciting new presence threatens Sylvester, who harbours feelings for his master, and a dramatic triangle develops between the three, with Ruby declaring her intention to use Astro to “open up the Android Circuit”, an act that would fuse man with machine and save the human race, but can only be achieved through their sexual union.

Featuring a jaw-dropping twist in the third act, (a revelation strikingly similar to a pivotal moment in recent HBO series Westworld), The Android Circuit sees McGrath’s far-sighted intellect blossom in the science fiction genre, to which he would return in 1982 with The Nuclear Family. Playfully peppered with signature details, including recorded bird song and the last bottle of whisky in the universe, his informed, exploratory vision of the future successfully employs a myriad of fascinating influences on every creative level, ranging from the science of Leonardo da Vinci and the art of Robert Smithson, to the evolution of mankind’s relationship with technology and the horrors of the Vietnam War.

“I didn’t need to invent a Philip K. Dick landscape. There was at least one which existed already.”
- Tom McGrath on The Android Circuit

Reflecting the script’s motif of revolving in space, McGrath’s highly innovative play finally travels full circle, taking this biographical strand, and our Brave New World retrospective with it, and returning to a Traverse stage, on which it debuted an astonishing thirty nine years ago.

“The world of the future may have no clocks.”
- Tom McGrath