Marjorie Prime assessment – gently uncanny sci-fi reveals us the way to love an AI | Theatre

Nancy Carroll as Tess, with Reid.

Jordan Harrison’s gently uncanny play imagines a future answer for an individual in mourning: the recreation of somebody you like as a synthetic intelligence.

Within the early levels of dementia, Marjorie (a shining Anne Reid) finds consolation in Walter Prime, an AI model of her useless husband. Richard Fleeshman gives a pristine efficiency as Walter, whom Marjorie has chosen to have re-created as his good-looking, 30-year-old self. There’s a delightfully unearthly edge to Fleeshman’s gait and smile, however as Walter reminds Marjorie of joyful days they spent collectively, there may be additionally real heat between them. She is aware of he’s not actual however he gives her time, consideration and reminiscences in ways in which the opposite individuals round her wrestle to.

Marjorie lives along with her stern daughter Tess (Nancy Carroll) and much friendlier son-in-law Jon (an affable Tony Jayawardena), and we see how Tess struggles to deal with the concept a intelligent piece of tech would possibly be capable to talk along with her mom higher than she will be able to. However for probably the most half, the struggles with the AIs are hardly ever stunning; the moral and emotional problems with at-home machine studying are so plainly specified by the dialogue that the play struggles to dig very deep.

Nancy Carroll as Tess, with Reid.
A delight … Reid, with Nancy Carroll as Tess. {Photograph}: Manuel Harlan

The writing is much extra delicate within the moments the place the AI can really serve the residing, as when Walter gives Marjorie a contented reminiscence she’d lengthy since forgotten. Later, because the play flips on its head and Marjorie takes the position of Prime, we see how she gives Tess the time and house to say what she had by no means managed to in life. Reid’s Prime could also be much less convincingly robotic than the others, however as the actual, respiratory Marjorie, she is a delight; charming and chopping and splendidly happy with herself as she asks whether or not the physician she was flirting with was flirting again.

Directed by Dominic Dromgoole, that is no Black Mirror. The play, initially written in 2014, just isn’t created to warn in opposition to the perils of AI. As an alternative it calmly considers what we would acquire from utilizing know-how to fill a gaping loss. Maybe its best lesson is that we must always do our greatest to speak higher with the individuals we care about in the present day, whereas we nonetheless have the prospect to take action.