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The Kind Complex (14-18s)

By Isla Cowan

Tell me about your childhood.

Welcome to the Kind Complex – the factory of the future, where only the best and brightest teenagers of the tech generation are selected to work.

When Agnes joins the design team, she enters the manufactured world of human-Kin: artificial intelligence humanoids created for hospitality and service jobs humans don’t want. The Kin go through a rigorous development process, equipped with childhood memories to replicate individuality, and provide a better customer experience.

But Agnes isn’t here to make Kin; instead, she’s here for answers, for change and, if necessary, revolution.

Award-winning playwright Isla Cowan returns to Strange Town to conjure up a new world of sanitised tech and sinister ambitions, glimpsing five minutes into the future to ask what truly makes us human.


The ‘Kind’ Complex. The feel of a warehouse or factory. Somehow run-down but also high-tech – think steam-punk, or Star Wars.

First produced

June 2023; directed by Catherine Ward-Stoddart


Drama, Science-Fiction

Cast Size


Recommended for performers aged


Running Time

60 minutes

Recommended for audiences aged


Script Extract:

The Workshop. Bob and Belle are working on Kyle, while Ben, Bish and Bex work on Kai nearby.

Belle is fixing some wiring in Kyle’s brain.Bob is working on Kyle’s hand. It almost looks like they’re surgeons.

Bob manipulates Kyle’s fingers, chuckles to himself.

BOB           Hey.

Hey, Belle

Belle continues working.

BOB            Belle.

Belle, look at this.


Belle continues working. Bob is still laughing.

BOB            Belle, belle, look.


 Look at this.

BELLE         What?

Bob turns the hand and shows her, he’s put Kyle’s middle finger up.

Bob laughs more.

BELLE         Are you serious?

BOB            Look, he’s – like he’s – he’s giving you the finger –

Bob bursts out laughing again, like it’s the funniest thing he’s seen.

BELLE         Yeah I get it

BOB            But you’re not laughing

BELLE         Because it’s not funny

BOB            But he’s –

BELLE         I know

BOB            He’s –

BELLE         I KNOW

BOB            You’re no fun!

BELLE         I’m trying to concentrate

BOB            Hey, Bish.



BISH          What is it?

BOB            Look at this.

Bob turns the hand to show him.

Bish bursts out laughing.

Bob turns to Belle.

BOB            See, told you it was funny.

BEX            What are you two giggling at?

She spots the hand.

                  Very mature. Get back to work.

BOB            Who made you the boss?

BISH          Yeah, who made you boss?

BEX            Prof did

BEN            What? When?

BEX            He said I was in charge while he stepped out

BOB            Oh jeez

BEX            Hey!

BEN            Why did he put you in charge?

BEX            Cause I’m the best?

BOB            (under his breath) The bossiest 

Natalie and Nick enter with Agnes.

NATALIE:    And, this, is the Workshop.

NICK          You won’t really be spending time here

NATALIE     But it’s good to see how it all happens

AGNES:      So, this is where they put the robots together?

NICK          We don’t use that word here

AGNES       Robot?

NATALIE     It’s derogatory

AGNES        Oh, sorry

NICK          But, yes, the Kin are assembled here.

AGNES:      How?

NICK          Well, it’s a complicated process. It takes lots of time, maths –

NATALIE     A bit of magic!

NICK          The mechanics oversee both the physical and mental programming –

NATALIE     Coding and building

NICK          – of the Kin. They’re quite a talented bunch – but it’s all numbers and sequences to them

NATALIE     They don’t really get the human side of what we do here

NICK          And of course, it’s a lot of trial and error really.

NATALIE     These mechanics are currently working on Kyle. Kyle’s been sent back for a psychotic episode.

NICK          They often get sent back after a few goes around the talking tests.

NATALIE     I think you’ll find we’re very – thorough ­– here

Prof enters.

NICK          Ah, and this is Prof, our head mechanic

PROF:         They call me a mechanic, but, really, I’m a scientist

NATALIE:    Prof is very particular about words

PROF:         Words are important. Words shape our world, our minds. As powerful as a drill or a piece of code.

You call me a mechanic and that creates a certain expectation. You call me a mechanic, and you call me a fixer, a maker –

AGNES:      Don’t scientists make things?

PROF:         Nothing that wasn’t there before. Scientists solve problems, make meaning out of matter. We simply give structure to what is already there.

                  Take these Kin. It’s all there already, in the mind, the memory. We simply give them a bodily form.

                  And, what, may I ask, do you call yourself?

AGNES:      Me? Oh, I’m Agnes

PROF:         Agnes?

NATALIE:    Our new consultant

PROF:         Consultant Agnes. Agony Aunt.

AGNES:      Agony?

NATALIE:    We better be moving on

PROF:         Pleasure to meet you, Agnes.

NICK          Now the gym is upstairs but that’s for the Kin, not for us, and it’s not really worth the stairs

NATALIE     So let’s head straight over to the Calibration Chamber!

Nick and Natalie exit, with Agnes.

BELLE         (to Bob) Right, I think I’ve isolated and patched the right neuron.

You ready to reconnect this?

They reconnect Kyle. 

They stand back.

Kyle slowly wakes up, he looks around him.

He looks at his hand (the one Bob was working on).

He starts screaming.  

BELLE         Switch him off!

Bob rushes over to Kyle. There’s a bit of a tussle.

Switch him off!

Bob manages to press a button on the back of Kyle’s neck.

Kyle goes limp again.

If you are interested in this script, please email James at james@strangetown.org.uk

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