POST: 'Marjorie Prime' - I understood that he wasn't human, but...

What's it about?

Fast forward to a time where artificial intelligence exists. Marjorie, an elderly widow with a deteriorating memory, gains a companion programmed to interact with, as well as help recall memories.

After each show, I love to draw a scene that had an impact on me.  I decided to draw a cross-section of Walter Prime because to me, while he had the physical features and memories of the real Walter, he was still a prime built to compute memories. 

After each show, I love to draw a scene that had an impact on me.  I decided to draw a cross-section of Walter Prime because to me, while he had the physical features and memories of the real Walter, he was still a prime built to compute memories. 

What'd I experience?

When I first read the synopsis of this show, I was drawn to it. There was this line that caught my attention, “What would we remember, and what would we forget, if given the chance?” It gave me that Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind vibe, which happens to be one of my favorite films, so I thought why not? That and I was curious to see a show taking place in the future because I get so used to shows taking place in the past. This one was different, so I was intrigued.

I made it to the theater pretty easily and found my seat. I had a bit of time before the show, so I began to look around. It was an intimate theater, the seats were pretty close together, and two men sat next to me. This was when my mind started to wander a bit. I began thinking about arm chair etiquette. Is there even etiquette? Who gets the arm of the chair? Do we fight for it? Is it whoever was there first? If you move to get something, does that relinquish all rights to the arm of the chair? Because that’s what I think about before a show.

The show opened with Marjorie talking to her companion, Walter Prime. After the first couple of minutes, I fell in love with him. There was so much life and love in him. Yes, I understood that he wasn’t human, but that didn’t change the fact that he had feelings and that he seemed to feel like any human does. His character even reminded me of Leeloo from The Fifth Element. Both are characters I've fallen in love with because of their innocence and ability to convey such strong emotions. They learn quickly but still have the ability to feel, and not being human didn’t change that.

Marjorie's character. Not so much. I felt like I didn't gain much insight into who she was as a person. From the little I gathered, she was a subpar mom, who became extremely dependent on those around her. I wanted more and partially expected more. I felt like she was hiding something from me, not showing me what else was really there. That in combination with her similarity to the actress Betty White made me feel disconnected from her. Similar to Betty White,  she used her old age in combination with modern culture, but that only distanced me even further. At one point, Marjorie sings part of the song "Single Ladies" by Beyonce. Most people found that adorable and funny, but I just wasn't buying what she was selling. 

Tess, Marjorie’s daughter, was much more relatable. She felt unappreciated and unloved by her mother, which broke my heart. I understood, to a certain degree, what that felt like, and it was hard to watch how much she cared and how little recognition she received. Tess felt that her mother loved Damien, her deceased brother, and Walter Prime more than her. She was even skeptical of Walter Prime, and Primes in general, and could you blame her? Technology seems to be increasing at such a fast rate, and programming a companion with intimate information is scary. I’m not sure I’d even be okay with that - I wouldn’t know if the information was going anywhere, and I’d be scared that they’d take over the world. That seems like a huge possibility (even for our world). 

John, Tess’s husband, was the character that impacted me the most. He was loving towards Marjorie and Tess. He was open to having the Prime in their lives, and he just seemed like the type of person I’d want to be friends with. In one of his scenes, Tess died, and he replaced her with a prime. He tried telling it all of their memories, but began to cry. He finally understood Tess’ skepticism and how the prime would be nothing like his deceased wife. He said, “It’s like talking to yourself.” After he said that, I was a mess. I felt his pain and understood what he meant. It was hard to see him break down and fall apart. I just wanted to help in some way, but I couldn’t.

(SPOILER ALERT) In the end, Walter, Marjorie, and Tess were turned into Primes, and John was nowhere to be found. The three Primes conversed, and it was clear that conversation was limited. They could only comment on memories they shared, followed by moments of pure silence.  Then, it was over.

I made my way to the lobby and noticed one of the actors. He looked familiar, and I realized that he was the actor from Nikita.  I loved the show, so I fan girled a bit to myself before mustering up the courage to get a photo. While leaving the theater, I was deep in thought about the whole concept of Primes and the future in general. Where will we be in a couple years? Will Primes exist? Will we all be Primes in the end? Would I want to leave a Prime of myself behind?


Want to see it?

$30 HOTtix (Under 30 Rush)
$15-$25* Young Member Tickets

Marjorie Prime
Playwrights Horizons
thru Jan. 24