Last weekend I attended the official opening night for the world premiere of Brooklyn-born playwright Jordan Harrison‘s new play, Marjorie Prime (directed by Les Waters). It was held at Center Theatre Group‘s Mark Taper Forum (playing now through October 19) located in downtown Los Angeles’ Music Center–the Taper is easily one of the most intimate venues in Southern California.
The cast of four was lead by the incredible Lois Smith–who you would definitely recognize. At age 83–Ms. Smith’s career in TV, film and stage is now in its sixth decade. Most recently she played Adele Stackhouse aka Sookie’s grandmother on True Blood, you might also remember her from Twister–she has an extensive list of credits on her IMDB page! It was incredible to see her live up on stage, still doing what she loves–her heartfelt and emotional performance alone with worth seeing this play.
Without giving away too much of the plot, Marjorie Prime is set in the near future where people now own Primes – which are basically computers / robots smart enough to become an eerily almost human companion. These Primes are programmed to constantly learn memories from their human owners and their artificial intelligence starts to evolve at increasingly high speeds. Smith plays Marjorie who lives in a senior home with a new Prime at her side that is a replica of her dead husband when she first met him. Her daughter still isn’t comfortable with the idea of using a Prime, yet her son-in-law is embracing Prime technology without much thought–an issue the couple debates over the course of the ninety-minute play. There are a few unexpected twists along the way and by the end a heavy emotional punch was delivered that I didn’t see coming as it brought me to tears.
I was thoroughly engaged the entire time by the ideas, issues and questions brought up surrounding the role technology plays in our lives–and how it will affect the future. Things are moving at a faster rate than ever before, there’s barely time to analyze its impact on society as a whole. Marjorie Prime gave me the opportunity to really ponder some of these topics (and was way better than Spike Jonze’s Her, which I didn’t really care for), the material has definitely been lingering in my mind. Without a doubt, I’d highly recommend seeing this thought-provoking play–it was excellent on all levels. Marjorie Prime will be playing at the Taper through October 19–tickets are available here plus you can select your own seats but honestly there simply isn’t one bad seat in that theatre.
PS A few days after opening night, I found out that Courtney Love was actually in attendance! I can’t believe I missed her–many of you out there know how much I love her! Courtney should think about dabbling in acting again, she’s actually a terrific actress–perhaps we could be seeing her on stage here in Los Angeles at some point–how incredible would that be?
— Center Theatre Group (@CTGLA) September 22, 2014
Take a profound journey with Marjorie Prime–this new drama as it moves into uncharted theatrical territory. In the age of artificial intelligence, how do you compute the loss of a loved one while fearing they will become a distant memory?
We buy these things that already know our moods and what we want for lunch even though we don’t know ourselves. And…we tell them our deepest secrets, even though we have no earthly idea how they work.
PHOTOS | CRAIG SCHWARTZ FOR CENTER THEATRE GROUP