Tony went to see the opening of Marjorie Prime at the Menier Chocolate Factory last week.
85-year-old Marjorie – who is rapidly losing touch with reality – has a handsome new companion who mysteriously is able to recall the story of her life for her. Who is he and where did he come from? This Pulitzer Prize nominated play explores the mysteries of human identity and whether artificial intelligence is a possible substitute for human emotion. See Tony’s Review below!
With the advances being made in Artificial Intelligence right now – whether it be AI art generators such as DALL-E 2, or the news this week that Google will be launching their own chatbot rival to ChatGPT – Jordan Harrison’s play is probably more relevant now than when it was first staged in California and Off-Broadway in 2015.
Although it’s dealing with sci-fi themes, the Pulitzer Prize short-listed play takes the form of an everyday domestic drama. It begins with Anne Reid playing the eponymous Marjorie. She is in the later stages of her life but is accompanied by the young and dashing, albeit distant Richard Fleeshman as Walter, an AI recreation of her departed husband. Fleeshman’s emotional distance contrasts with Reid’s dry, sardonic delivery that made her the star of TV shows Years & Years and Dinnerladies. Despite the heavy themes lurking in the background, the one-act show breezes along, buoyed by one-liners and witty retorts.
As the play moves on, we meet Marjorie’s daughter (Nancy Carroll) who is very uncomfortable with the new technology, and her husband (Tony Jayawardena) who is more optimistic. The funny, fast-paced nature of the play took me by surprise, but not as much as the final scene. You’ll have to watch it to find out what I mean!
Book now and don’t miss out, you only have 5 weeks to catch this hit play at one of London’s unique off West End theatres.