Thursday, May 10, 2018

"Marjorie Prime" ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

One of the finest new plays we have seen in years, Marjorie Prime has stayed with us. The year is 2062. The Senior Serenity company has devised a computer application to store a person's memories in a robot that looks and acts like the person's late spouse. The robot is called a Prime. Armed with many shared memories, the Prime can be a companion for the Senior. Senior Serenity says companionship is important.

Joy Carlin plays Marjorie, a lady in her eighties who is forgetting more and more as she ages. She has been provided with Walter Prime, who Marjorie has chosen to have look young and handsome like her late husband Walter did in his thirties. Played by Thomas Gorrebeeck, Walter Prime freaks us out with his calm, all-knowing manner, and our unease does not dissipate, even when we realize Walter Prime is not the real Walter.

The Primes learn who they are by asking questions. Of course, the answers they are given are filtered through the aging person's view of his or her life. These stories become truth to the Prime, whether or not they were true in real life. We see that memory and reality are not always the same. Memory itself becomes less important than which memories we choose to hold on to.

Marjorie's daughter Tess (a brilliant performance by Julie Eccles) is having trouble coping with her life, made worse by a tragedy we slowly discover, one which has been ignored and forgotten by Marjorie. Tess's husband Jon (Anthony Fusco) tries desperately to hang on to Tess, to no avail. In time, we will meet Tess Prime and Jon Prime and this is where things get really crazy.

And wonderful. Jordan Harrison's story is intriguing and Ken Rus Schmoll's direction is the perfect blend of confusion and revelation. WORD OF WARNING: If you have an elderly parent, Joy Carlin's performance will hit close to the bone. Be prepared.

RATINGS: ☼  ☼  ☼  ☼

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division grants "Marjorie Prime" FOUR STARS. It has everything we love in a show -- fine acting, writing, direction and the extra dimension of surprise. Marin Theater Company has a winner on its hands.

"Marjorie Prime"
Marin Theater Company
397 MillerAvenue, Mill Valley
Through May 27 (MUST CLOSE! DO NOT WAIT!)

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