Photo by Don Kellogg

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Marjorie Prime

Jordan Harrison has penned a compelling futuristic tale where artificial intelligence may just keep us company, attempt to provide comfort, and companionship in our elder years.   But he cleverly explores the depth, substance, and satisfaction this fascinating technology might bring to us - or not give to us, as the case may be.

Lois Smith (Marjorie), an aging mother losing her memories brings in a holographic tool (practically played by an actor, however)  - her husband, Walter, dashingly handsome in his 30's (the dashingly handsome Noah Bean) - to be with her and trigger her memories and provide companionship.   But it seems there is one major flaw - this prime (as it is referred to - Walter 'Prime') only knows what it has been told about the person it is becoming.  Is this a true and complete history?  Might be be whitewashing the past to paint the picture we want to see?

As the play progresses into the future and we see the deaths of other characters, each remaining person is presented with a "prime" of the departed individual. As the final character remains, Stephen Root (Jon)  - we come to see that this technology may not solve all problems or provide complete comfort and satisfaction.  In the final scene, quite brilliantly written, acted, and staged we end up seeing all the primes having a very stilted conversation going round and round on a small turntable around a kitchen table - after all - they only have things to talk about that they were told.  Their existence, indeed, is as stilted and incomplete as the conversation they are having.