Jordan Harrison‘s new sci-fi drama Marjorie Prime at Playwrights Horizons is provocative, disturbing and timely. This is the ultimate Alzheimer solution for the future or is it?
We first meet Walter (Noah Bean, a Tom Cruise look alike), a gorgeous early 30 something whom when talking to Marjorie (Lois Smith) is a bit stiff in his manner and speech. Slowly we learn he is the 85 year-old husband, despite the age difference. She is in the early stages of dementia where she is losing her memory and Walter reminds her through stories of how they met, married and their life together. Majorie’s daughter Tess (Lisa Emory) is disturbed that Walter is 30, since her father died a few years back. Walter you see is a companion called a “prime” from a company called Senior Serenity. John (Stephen Root), Tess’s husband, has encouraged and added the necessary data. When not in use, the “prime” sits on a nearby couch waiting and absorbing.
We are in the year 2062 and Tess, is none too thrilled, calling Walter science fiction. She can not warm up to a man younger than her and finds this whole idea dehumanizing.
From here I will stop, least I give away the whole plot of this twist of an ending. I can assure you this is an ending you will never guess.
You will question what is human, what is a soul and can we get over death and loss with another entity?
As Marjorie, Lois Smith, embodies a women struggling with what life has dealt. We feel her loss, her distruction and her pain at living. She is devastatingly real and yet so venerable. Lisa Emery brings a new complication to caregiving. We see how the longing for connection when it has been so severely broken makes this an even more daunting task. Stephen Root, adds a grounding to this question of what is and isn’t appropriate. Noah Bean is the perfect “prime” with his chiseled good looks.
Director Anne Kauffman keeps this show moving like a rollercoaster of life with all the highs and lows. She balances this piece with humanity.
Harrison is a writer I want to see more of. He knows the perfect timing for his work, he keeps the audience on their toes and takes on subjects that are interesting, relevant and mind consuming.
Like the old movie of the week, I can see this play on both the small and big screen. Let’s hope that we don’t lose this wonderful playwright to worlds of more money and fame. I just have one question to ask; where do the primes plug in, as there were no outlets? Does this means the future runs on imagination? If so point me in that direction.
Marjorie Prime: Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd St. until Jan.3rd.