In his thought-provoking drama, "Marjorie Prime," playwright Jordan Harrison supposes what life, actual or otherwise, might be like in the year 2062. Will the advances of technology and the capabilities of artificial intelligence render us, as has been predicted, obsolete? Or will humans, in their quest to be immortal, manipulate technology in order to "live" forever?
Marjorie, a sublime octogenarian, sits clinging to the remnants of her fading memories with the twisted yet graceful fingers of a violinist. With her is a handsome young man she calls Walter, who gently guides her thoughts by relating stories of shared experiences. His even and pleasant demeanor is a comfort to Marjorie, but there is something odd about him.
Eventually we realize this "Walter" is in fact a computerized version, or "Prime" of her late husband Walter, though a younger version, perhaps reflective of a kinder, gentler time in their life together. As Marjorie's memories fade, Walter Prime edits them so that he can always share a version with her that brings her peace.
This is a welcome respite from the exchanges she has with her middle-aged daughter, Tess. To put it gently, Tess is on edge. Her growing concerns about her mother's declining health coupled with her worries over her own adult children's questionable life choices leave her hypersensitive. She admits to her husband Jon that her mother's companion is unsettling.
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Time marches on, and soon, the dynamics between Tess and Marjorie change. They become more even and pleasant. (Spoiler alert, Tess has her own computerized companion now, a Marjorie "Prime" ) As "mother" and daughter talk, Tess is able to finally say things she could never say before.
Under the sensitive direction of Don LaCasse, "Marjorie Prime" is an experience that lingers, meandering a stream of consciousness. It's an eloquent exploration of family dynamics that offers an honest look at the emotional devastation one must face when watching a loved one slip away. Despite the suggestion that technology could replace us all, the play's foundation is all too human.
Kathleen Kirk is captivating as Marjorie. She draws us in and holds us close from her first moments on stage, which she shares with a company of Heartland Theatre all-stars, including John Bowen, wonderfully eerie as Walter, Rhys Lovell, as Jon, and Devon Lovell, who breaks your heart as Tess.
"Marjorie Prime" is a wonderful example of what Heartland Theatre has always done so well: Exploring the human condition. The sensitive themes, so beautifully delivered by the stellar cast, did meet with a smattering of sniffles, so buy some tissues, and make your reservations today.