Marjorie Prime is reminiscent of the 1999 film, Bicentennial Man, more for the complex pain of humanity than for the technology.
“On the surface Marjorie Prime seems to be about aging and memory loss, but at its core it’s about finding our identities and the changing relationships we have with our families and the world itself,” said the play’s director, John Olivera.
Marjorie, played by Carol Sussman, is a woman in her 80’s, wading through the sorrow of the things she has lost – her husband, her son and herself. Marjorie’s daughter, Tess, played by Fara Sax, vacillates between being supportive and being spiteful, trying to find balance in the complicated relationship between mother and daughter. Jon, played by Harry Marsh, is the ever-patient son-in-law and Walter, played by Chris D’Angelo, is a ‘prime,’ the youthful robotic version of Marjorie’s long-dead husband.
Marjorie’s memory is failing her, and in the moments she is lucid she endures the embarrassment old age brings, like incontinence. Marjorie Prime shows that remembering is a double-edged sword. It makes us who we are but it makes us relive all our pain.
Taking place in a future so distant that ZZ Top and Julia Roberts are unfamiliar names, Marjorie Prime inevitably leads one to question their own fate and the difficulty in balancing being the person our loved one needs us to be and the people they made us become.
Sax, Marsh and D’Angelo all bring life to their characters but Sussman carries the play with her true-to-life portrayal of a woman lost in a fog that finds herself heartbroken every time she is reminded of the loved ones she’s lost.
As the play progresses we learn things about Marjorie alongside her prime like the former lovers she bewitched and that she played violin for an orchestra. As Vivaldi’s music plays in the background, Marjorie grapples with the certainty of death and the fear of what comes after. “I don’t have to get better, just keep me from getting worse,” Marjorie pleads with her prime.
John, despite being disliked by Marjorie due to her prejudices, is the most patient with Marjorie. He feels no need to dredge up difficult and complicated feelings to a woman who is slowly forgetting who she is. Tess, on the other hand, is riddled with grief for a lifetime of emotional neglect.
At the end of the play three primes find themselves reminiscing about memories they never experienced and in their cordiality they fall short of the reality. They were too kind, too graceful, too scripted. They believed the lies their living counterparts told them, of a wedding proposal far nicer than the truth, the athletic prowess of an admirer who was really a drywall contractor, and the fabrication of joy that had long ago been extinguished by heartache. And yet, these three were all that remained – vessels for memories and lies people tell themselves. Who is to know if they sat echoing thoughts for days after their living counterparts died, or centuries?
The show is directed by John Olivera, stage manager is Cindy Castillo, and technical director is Dennis Lyzniak. Marjorie Prime runs from April 14 – May 7, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Main Street Playhouse, 6766 Main Street, in Miami Lakes.
Tickets are $30 for adults, and $25 for students, seniors, and military personnel, and may be purchased in advance at www.mainstreetplayers.com or at the door thirty minutes prior to showtime.