Playwrights Horizons presents a story about a family coping with the loss of a loved one through the use of a "prime:" an exact replica of the deceased who can learn to interact in human-like ways. More…
Marjorie is a clever, wry woman who, at age 85, finds that her memory is failing. She is living out her days at an assisted living facility where she is frequently visited by her anxious, quick-witted daughter, Tess, and her kind, easygoing son-in-law, Jon. With the urging of Jon and the facility, and despite Tess' misgivings, a mysterious young man, Walter, joins the group with the hope that he can help reverse Marjorie's decline.
"Easily among the best plays I saw this year, and I was moved to do something I’ve never done before — purchase a copy of the play on my way out of the theater because I loved it so much...If you’ve experienced the death of a loved one this play will really hit home...I will remember this play for a long time." Full Review
"Impeccably directed by Anne Kauffman, with acting to match by a cast of four, this production keeps developing in your head...It initially has the look and feel of a featherweight work — of a cool, low-key domestic comedy of ideas, built on a single ingenious gimmick. But at some point, you realize that it’s been landing skillfully targeted punch after punch, right where it hurts." Full Review
"The way this concept is presented is nothing less than artful in that it never once feels sci-fi or fantastical; despite the (currently) unbelievable premise, it stays grounded in its principles, however existential they may seem. The cast delivers outstanding performances in roles that demand an immersive and imaginative approach...If there is one caution to consider, it is this: 'Marjorie Prime' is not for the passive viewer. To fully appreciate its message, it’s critical to pay attention." Full Review
"Insightful and only slightly science fiction play...The main strength of 'Marjorie Prime' is not in its imagining of future robots, but in its precise perceptions of present-day family dynamics...There is much humor in the telling and retelling of the family stories, and much precision in the performances of the four actors, under the expert direction of Anne Kauffman." Full Review
"A startling and profound new drama...It’s true that 'Marjorie Prime' is fundamentally a realistic work, and a brilliant one at that...That in this production they are rendered natural as well, despite the amusing technological frame through which Harrison explores them, is the result of the superior ensemble acting of the cast, under Anne Kauffman’s beautifully balanced direction." Full Review
"One of the more impressive aspects of 'Marjorie Prime' is how Harrison calls upon spectators to be active viewers. Rather than deal in specifics, he provides context clues for us to piece together the timeline and personal histories ourselves...It works here because the dialogue and performances are so strong, it's like we're viewing these moments firsthand...Thanks to the expert cast and wonderfully sensitive writing, it's a supremely emotional moment." Full Review
"Anne Kaufman directs with a steady hand. Even scene changes are well orchestrated...We can see the stagehands but we can’t see them well, reflecting the blurring of light/life and death/ obscurity at the heart of the play. 'Marjorie Prime' dips a little toward the end but bounces right back. It raises all sorts of questions about that most basic of topics: life and death. It answers none of them, observing and imagining but offering no pithy answers." Full Review
"An intriguing scenario but mainly an elegant study of memory as both escape and prison...The structural trick of Harrison’s play (not to give too much away) is the slow proliferation of Primes, which both palliates and sharpens the tragic chapters of Marjorie and Tess’s past. Time will tell if A.I. ever becomes a reality, but the human parts of Harrison’s smart, lovely play are built to last." Full Review
"The plot is intriguing, but a bit schematic. I wish the family’s long-ago tragedy were not based on something that has become a dramatic cliche. Nevertheless, there is much to admire. The actors are uniformly wonderful. The final scene is both a satisfying and unexpected one, filled with humanity." Full Review
"The ensemble gives fine performances in the thought-provoking piece, which plays out on a lime-green apartment set bland enough to allow lighting designer Ben Stanton to focus on characters and the creepy nature of what is taking place. The plot is more intellectual than fast-paced action in this 90-minute, no intermission play, but Kauffman’s taut direction doesn’t allow it to sound boring. Harrison’s script also keeps the subject from veering into science fiction." Full Review
"Since there’s a general coolness to director Anne Kaufmann’s production, and the backstories of the characters aren’t particularly engrossing, the difference between the humans and the primes might have worked better if the characters were more down-to-earth or unusual than the superficial ones in the play...Harrison wisely remains opaque about the androids’ technical details, forcing you to fill in the dots. His premise is wide open for speculation and debate." Full Review
"'Marjorie Prime' envisions a day in the near future when we’ll be able to program robots to serve as humanoid companions for the old, the infirm and the lonely. The play, premiering at Playwrights Horizons with Smith in the cast, is also a sensitive study of family dynamics, which makes it all the more engaging." Full Review
"Infinitely complex, intellectually provocative, and flagrantly moral, 'Marjorie Prime' is a masterpiece of dramatic construction and execution...Kauffman's production could hardly be better: crisp, futuristic, and yet resolutely now, a cry from the future to the present. Despite the cast's and Kauffman's best efforts, however, parts of the play, particularly in the first half, tend to drag...Even so, 'Marjorie Prime' is an absolute winner." Full Review
"A compelling futuristic tale where artificial intelligence may just keep us company, attempt to provide comfort, and companionship in our elder years. But he cleverly explores the depth, substance, and satisfaction this fascinating technology might bring to us - or not give to us, as the case may be." Full Review
"Kauffman has economically and coolly staged the play...On one level, 'Marjorie Prime' is a wry examination of how technology is replacing some human interaction, but it's also a tender, layered look at the caprices of memory and the devastating impact of loss." Full Review
"Jordan Harrison's captivating new play...Emphasizing the transitory nature of true human perceptions, director Anne Kauffman's production limns eloquent compositions for fleeting intervals.... The excellent ensemble subtly delineates the differences between unthinking human movement and its machine-learned facsimile." Full Review
"Under the direction of Anne Kauffman, the acting is seamless. And this carefully calibrated 70-minute meditation on morality and memories exerts a gentle but insistent tug. But it doesn’t doesn’t dive deep enough to make a lasting impact." Full Review
"'Marjorie Prime' is an ambitious and provocative rumination on the crossroads to which all our journeys through life lead. The every day aspects of the play cover much that's predictable...Fortunately, under the direction of Anne Kauffman the in and out movement between ordinary and extraordinary is accomplished with subtle fluidity. Best of all, the cast is more than up to tapping into the nuances of the characters. " Full Review
"But mostly the AI conceit feels like a device for examining the one, inherently human condition that no robot can know: death and grieving. The story-telling process of programming the primes offers the most interesting parts of the drama...This is where 'Marjorie Prime' has the most to say; the plot surprises afforded by the AI story come off as mere provocation." Full Review
"'Marjorie Prime' isn't especially dramatic; it works by stating and restating its initial situation...Anne Kauffman's beautifully acted production keeps raising nagging questions...By the finale, 'Marjorie Prime' is in danger of not making sense...'Marjorie Prime' is best enjoyed as a chamber piece, and on those terms it certainly has a creepily insinuating effect." Full Review
"'Marjorie Prime' is sometimes frustratingly slow and schematic; it's the sort of play that is probably more satisfying to ponder over afterward than to watch. But it resonates with deep feeling, philosophical intelligence and empathy not only for its human characters, but also for its artificial ones. Staged in measured, understated fashion by Anne Kauffman, the piece is wonderfully acted by the ensemble." Full Review
"Jordan Harrison’s thought-provoking play…Despite its brevity, the play can feel a bit sluggish since there’s relatively little action, and the feeling of stasis is mostly underlined by Anne Kauffman’s relatively unfussy direction. She shows her theatricality only at the very end, leaving one to almost wonder if the play was written in reverse given the show’s chilling (and chillingly staged) final scene. It’s a glimpse into the future that many of us might prefer not to see." Full Review
"Typically, AI stories focus on the singularity and robots taking over. That's not what 'Marjorie Prime,' directed with sensitivity by Anne Kauffman, is about. Indeed, Tess's husband, Jon, champions the Primes, seeing them as allies. Yet, throughout the course of the play, sort of a sophisticated Turing Test, we wonder if the line between human intelligence and artificial intelligence is too blurred for its own good." Full Review
"On a technical level 'Marjorie Prime' is expertly constructed and contains serviceable dialogue that propels the plot, but in totality it never rises above the level of an academic contrivance. The premise is a familiar but promising one, but in execution it is flat." Full Review
"Artificial intelligence is one thing; artificial playwriting, alas, is another. That's not to say that Mr. Harrison's writing is artificial. His setup, though, allows him to spoon-feed information to the audience by having his A.I. characters feed us backstory...The plotting is such that at times we are reminded of a non-violent variation on 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'. Except that what is provocative in those works is not so, here." Full Review
See it if you want an elegant, rich, and haunting heartbreaker of a play, with stunning observations about the way we connect to those we love
Don't see it if you're looking for something lighter and less ruminative
See it if You enjoy a prophetic and provocative drama about memory and family. Lois Smith is magnificent. Deserved a Pulitzer last year.
Don't see it if You want your plays to be comedys. The reviews run the plot so don't read them.
See it if you revel in science fiction or futuristic themes, or simply want to feel connected to the spirit of what it means to be human.
Don't see it if you're looking for an action-adventure tale, or are expecting special effects.
See it if you can. A powerful exam of identity and memory. What makes us ourselves? And what will happen with AI? Well acted, skillfully written.
Don't see it if you dislike sci-fi stories. MP takes place in the near future. I liked it so much I saw it twice. A couple of scenes could have been trimmed
See it if 1) You want to see Lois Smith in yet another TOP NOTCH performance 2) You enjoy a little sci-fi with your examination of aging and loss
Don't see it if you are dealing with a recent loss & want space
See it if You are interested in some great acting and are interested in a theatre of ideas. You have experienced familial loss.
Don't see it if Even soft sci-fi turns you off. You abhor the color sea-foam.
See it if you want to catch Lois Smith live in an incredible play before it gets turned into a potentially Oscar nominating performance in 2017.
Don't see it if you can't handle death & grieving even as it's doled out with a sci-fi quirk that leaves an indelible mark on all who saw it.
See it if If you have ever suffered the loss of a loved one. This was a moving exploration of how future technology might change the grieving process.
Don't see it if You want something light and fluffy.
See it if Extremely original, thought provoking and well acted. The plot unfolded in three acts, each more riveting than the last
Don't see it if You want something light, fluffy and happy
See it if you like considering implications of future technology and enjoy clever, well-thought out playwriting
Don't see it if you don't want to think about death, aging, or mortality. You want to see a cheerful and joyous play.
See it if you're interested in semi-science-fiction stories or if you're interested in the effects of technology on human interaction
Don't see it if you get bored watching people talk with little action or if you like shows with a huge conflict
See it if You like inventive work that is different, thought provoking and very well acted.
Don't see it if You like your theater spoon fed to you from the same cliched stories, as this is definitely not that.
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