Marjorie Prime, a look into artificial intelligence in the near future
By Byron Toben
My favourite old Greek guy was Socrates who queried eternal concepts – What is beauty? Justice? Truth?, using Q & A logic as his tool.
I don’t recall that he ever tackled Memory. (Perhaps it was on his bucket list before the power structure of the day rid itself of this 69-year-old gadfly by poison in 399 BCE.)
In the intervening centuries, as thought evolved through experiment and logic and began its more rapid expansion from the 17th through the 20th centuries, reaching exponential growth in present day times, memory became defined in computer terms of encoding, storing and retrieval. The biological chemicals doing this process through synapses transmitting proteins between neurons are still being refined.
Author Jordan Harrison was short listed for a Pulitzer for this script. Director Lisa Rubin did a bag up job in pacing the show.
But the 1997 IBM computer programming chess moves “Deep Blue” proved faster and more reliable than human masters, paving the way for today’s hot market of digital Artificial Intelligence. Converge this with super sensors and humanoid robotic shells and voila! – you got yourself a Prime hologram.
Who needs a pet dog or cat to provide memory association and companionship when you can have your own tailor made Prime about? Speaking of cats, I cannot resist mentioning old school hit song Memories from the musical Cats.
All this is preface to seeing this wonderful production at the Segal. A movie version of this 2015 play came out in late 2017, but seeing it live will enhance your own memory better.
Author Jordan Harrison was short listed for a Pulitzer for this script. Director Lisa Rubin did a bang up job in pacing the show.
A quartet of our top actors fleshed out the characters:
Clare Coulter inhabited Marjorie, a mid-80s widow with diminishing memory, yet glimpses of a feisty personality.
Eloi Archambaudoin portrayed the Prime of her late husband Walter, albeit as he was at 30.
Ellen David impressed as her emotional daughter Tess as does Tyrone Benskin as Jon, the common sense son in law.
The action takes place in 2040 wherein furniture looks similar, but not quite, to today’s – kudos (whatever they are) to set designer John C. Dinning. Nice mood music between scene blackouts composed by Christian Thomas – much of it seemed to echo Vivaldi.
Marjorie Prime continues at the Segal Centre until March 18.
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.