Japanese robots take to the stage

A troupe of Japanese thespians have shared the limelight with none other than a group of robots.

In one of Japan's first ever robot-human theatre productions, the "actors" took to the stage at Osaka University.

Playwright Oriza Hirata penned his play, Hataraku Watashi (I, Worker), to raise questions about the relationship between humanity and technology.

In it, the Mitsubishi-designed robots were given parts and were specially programmed to speak lines and interact with the human actors as well as moving around the stage with them.

The plot takes part in the near future and centres upon a young couple who own two robots designed to do the housekeeping - but one loses its motivation to do its chores.

Cue a debate with the humans about the robots' role in their lives.

The Beeb adds that the play is currently only 20 minutes long but it is hoped to become a full-length production by 2010.