Marjorie Prime dabbles in some very interesting ideas and poses questions that we as a ‘modern’ society are facing and will continue to be confronted with. The story has Marjorie (an octogenarian played competently by Clare Coulter) who is in the care of her daughter Tess (played by Ellen David), who has an interesting relationship with the hologram projection of a younger version of her husband Walter, who died around fifteen years ago. Walter (Eloi Archam Baudoin) is meant to be a projection and plays it within the confines of his character. Marjorie chose her husband in his younger avatar, to remember how handsome he looked all those years ago. The Prime (Walter) engages and interacts with Marjorie in the expected robotic manner, constantly attempting to sound, act and be more human. The hilarious underlying message of the play seems to be that humans get lonely and take to melancholy, while digital projections of us aspire for this tragic humanity.
The interaction obviously comes with pitfalls. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Jordan Harrison, Marjorie Prime attempts to investigate whether holographic projections of deceased family members are what we are left with when solitary ageing is slowly becoming the norm. The pace of the play is slow, with swaths of time spent by characters taking these strolls at the head of the stage. While the movement of time reflected through slowly emptying of the stage was ok in the beginning, it happens way too often and constantly took me away from the rhythm of the play. Also, the texture of the play has very few layers thus makes engagement superficial and distractions easy.
Marjorie’s daughter Tess is affected by her mother’s condition and her interactions with her deceased father’s digital avatar. She also expresses displeasure for the choice of a younger version of her father. She is supported by an astute life partner, Jon (Tyrone Benskin) who has deep understanding of her mother’s situation. His character is steady, but comes across as inert. He creates some intrigue by sharing a secret with Walter’s Prime, which piques both Marjorie’s and our interest.
The play pushes the envelope when Tess walks down the same path and employs the services of Marjorie’s Prime when her mother passes. She is heartbroken when she realizes that her interactions with her mother’s Prime seem fuller and more satisfying than she had with her living mother. While Tess navigates this new-found dependence on her mother’s Prime, a very short time later she falls victim to this and becomes another piece in this technologically driven relationship making.
Marjorie Prime struggled a little with lacklustre direction, extremely tardy dialogue delivery and mostly pacing issues. The subject matter is quite potent and has enough that would allow for some ethical and sociological discussions.
The play is on stage at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts (5170 chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine Montreal, QC, H3W 1M7) until March 18, 2018. For tickets and show times, click HERE.