By STUART NULMAN
Imagine utilizing the concepts of artificial intelligence and combining it with the latest in computer technology as a means for an aging individual, whose personal memories are quickly fading, to selectively recall those memories before their life comes to an end.
That’s the idea behind “Marjorie Prime”, the latest production of the Segal Centre’s 2017-2018 season, which is playing there until March 18.
Set in an apartment/condo in the not-too-distant future (which is stunningly represented thanks to John C. Dinning’s set design, which is so impressive that I would like to have that for my apartment design), the play begins with Marjorie (played with a great deal of irrepressible charm by Clare Coulter), a senior of rather advanced age, having a conversation with a young gentleman named Walter (Eloi Archambaudoin). They discuss a variety of topics that deal with certain moments from her life, as if it was a memory game, from the movies she has seen, to the family dog, to even a brief fling with a French tennis pro named Jean-Paul. However, the odd thing about this conversation is that Walter is actually “Walter Prime”, a computerized hologram of Marjorie’s deceased husband.
However, Marjorie’s holistic conversations about certain memories of her 85 years doesn’t sit well with her headstrong daughter Tess (Ellen David), who with husband Jon (Tyrone Benskin) visit her regularly to attend to her needs. This is especially so when she realizes she can’t cope with some of the memories Marjorie decides to recall, in particular the more tragic ones that affected her life in particular and her family in general.
Written by Jordan Harrison and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist three years ago, “Marjorie Prime” is a rather curious, intriguing play about how technology can play a role with basic human emotions and the course of human life. It deals with aging and the spectre of losing one’s memory with a science fiction touch to it, as if it might have been written by the late legendary sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick. However, thanks to a marvelous cast who knows how to effectively interpret this complex, emotional material, the end result is a production that proves artificial intelligence – if used in a more caring, sensitive manner – can handle the ravages of aging, and how it robs a person’s capability to process the memories they want to remember.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 514-739-7944, or go to www.segalcentre.org.