January 14, 2016

The computer is the conductor, and in some respects the composer, too, in “Yesterday Tomorrow,” a haunting and strangely beautiful musical theater piece that is as simple in its emotional appeal as it is complex in its conception and execution. Created and directed by Annie Dorsen, the work, which can be seen through Saturday at LaMaMa as part of the Coil festival from Performance Space 122, is the third in what Ms. Dorsen calls her “algorithmic theater” trilogy. Yikes! Sounds rather chilly, no? But while the piece does indeed rely on a computer algorithm that alters its dynamics at each performance, a pleasing playfulness and an affecting symbolic layer are hard-wired into it, too. The lights go up on three vocalists — the mezzo Hai-Ting Chinn, the baritone Jeffrey Gavett and the soprano Natalie Raybould — each seated on a sizable sofa, dressed in casual clothes (but distractingly weird boots). Far in the background, you can spy a statue of the Buddha lit from within.