Imagine a strange, near-future world where human television actors are replaced with robots.

This fictional future will come to life when West Virginia Universitys Division of Theatre and Dance presents Alan Ayckbourns play,Comic Potential,Feb. 28-March 9.

The comedy is set in the future when everything has changed except human nature. It is a farce, a love story, a satire on TV and other human follies, as well as a serious drama full of the power and precariousness of love.

Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. nightly Feb. 28-29, March 1, 4 and 5-8 in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre of the Creative Arts Center on WVU s Evansdale Campus. Sunday matinee performances will be at 2 p.m. March 2 and 9.

Ayckbourn has been referred to as the Neil Simon of England. He has written 70 plays, many of them great successes in London and New York.

InComic Potential,television producers employ robots known asactoidsin place of actors, and a young man, Adam, falls in love with one of these actoids. He runs off with the actoid, only to be confronted with the realities of her machine qualities, as well as his naiveté about how the world will react to the impossible relationship.

I wanted to write a play about the nature of being human, so I came up with this Pygmalionesque story,Ayckbourn said.I dont specify time, but its probably closer than we think. There are two things that separate us from animalsthe ability to fall in love and a sense of humor, and its no coincidence that the two are so closely linked.

WVU s production ofComic Potentialis directed by Phillip Beck, coordinator of the Universitys acting program and a regular director for the Division of Theatre and Dance and the Greenbrier Valley Theatre in Lewisburg.

This play is particularly intriguing because of its funny, yet poignant, examination of what it means to be human and what it means to be in love,Beck said.

The cast includes students in WVU s Division of Theatre and Dance acting program: Vance Barber, Alex Pawlowski, John Harper, Dan Stevens, Mike Custer, Mike Baker, Denice Burbach, Melissa Allen, Emma Hardesty, Liza Skinner, Jordan Estel, Jennifer Cooper Pritchard and Samantha Clay.

Designers are Diana Wright, sets; Anna Hines, costumes; and visiting assistant professor Jason Banks, lighting. The stage manager is Rocky Love.

Tickets forComic Potentialare available at the Mountainlair and Creative Arts Center box offices, by calling 304-293-SHOW or through Ticketmaster.