“And what if you could make a technological version of a lost loved one to live with you— wouldn’t you want that?”
An obsession with uncovering the universal truth about the human condition is what’s driven playwrights since the days of Sophocles. But in MARJORIE PRIME, we are dealt this question in as frank a way as it can be dealt. And though this play is a clear quest to understand where we are now, and where we are headed, the answer is no more obvious than ever before.
The character of Marjorie was born in 1977, which would make her 40 years old in 2017. What we see in this play is an idea of our current future. It is not purely science fiction—the inspiration for this play came from Jordan Harrison’s interaction with technology currently available. MARJORIE PRIME inspires audiences to consider our relationships with our devices—not in a negative, Luddite way, but in a curious, thoughtful way. What happens to the information we feed our phones, our computers, our Amazon Echo-Alexa? If the information we put out there somehow interacted back with us, became “in relationship” with us, would we like that entity? Would we trust it and invite it into our home? What could it teach us about ourselves? And what if you could make a technological version of a lost loved one to live with you—wouldn’t you want that? (For those immediately screaming “no!” in your seats, I promise you I did, too. But simply consider: what positivity could it bring to your heart, and would that outweigh the negative implications of cheating biology?)
It seems to me that one of the first steps to understanding our humanity is to examine our personal relationships. By thinking about what roles we play for others (mother, husband, friend) and how those roles give context to our lives, we might be able to identify who we are without any trappings at all: our pure, unadulterated selves. Through this small, intimate play, Jordan Harrison has thrown down a big, complex gauntlet. Let’s all take it up for a couple of hours and see what happens…
Marjorie Prime runs Feb 7 – Mar 5 at Artists Repertory Theatre