Stephen Frankenfield as Joe and Shanna Brock as War Propaganda. ASHLEY THURMAN / ETCETERA

Joe's not an average guy. He wants to give up on humanity and delve into a sex-fueled robot world.

Joe is the main character in David Largman Murray's "Robots vs. Fake Robots," which Etcetera, the late-night arm of Live Theatre Workshop, opens Thursday.

It is an irreverent dark comedy that pokes fun at humans and modern American culture, said director Christopher Johnson. "It's a hip-hop ballet, comedy, tragedy. Everything that a culture is."

The play takes place in the year 6000. It is a small, scary, hysterical world. Only a few humans remain. Vain, glamorous robots live in an underground world where youth is a top priority. They are emotionless but fascinated with 20th- and 21st-century America. Robots showing age are disposed of and anything with the putrid odor of humans is mercilessly murdered.

Robots share silly retro names like Nintendo 64 and Garlic Press.

The play makes fun of beauty and the obsession with beauty trends, said Johnson. He used Lady Gaga as a modern point of reference. Lady Gaga will also make an appearance in the play's soundtrack, Johnson said. The rest of the music will share upbeat, electronic qualities.

"The robots look like a drugged up Urban Outfitters commercial," Johnson said. The costumes are inspired by American Apparel and anything super trendy in the L.A. world. "These little subcultures that people hate as soon as they get into it," said Johnson, adding the play transports the trends into the future.

Mortality is the serious theme in the play, Johnson said. Joe is busy being obsessed with the robots and idolizing them. Then he learns that even robots rust. "No matter what you buy you're still made of sand, falling apart," said Johnson.

If you go

"Robots vs. Fake Robots"

• Presented by: Etcetera, the late night arm of Live Theatre Workshop

• Playwright: David Largman Murray

• Director: Christopher Johnson

• When: Opening night performance is Thursday, Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Other performances are 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 25

• Where: Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway

• Tickets: $10

• Etcetera: No one under 16 will be admitted.

• Information/reservations: 327-4242

• Running time: 75 minutes with no intermission.

• Cast: Eric Anson, Shanna Brock, Ryan Butler, Danielle Dryer, Stephen Frankenfield, Amanda Gremel, Miranda McBride, Darla Petty, Lucille Petty, Toni Press-Coffman, Ally Tanzillo and Steve Wood

Jackie Tran is a University of Arizona student who is apprenticing at the Star. Contact him at 573-4128 or at starapprentice@azstarnet.com.