Impeccably performed this chilling little play by Jordan Harrison deals with a world in which Artificial Intelligence can allow us to enjoy all our yesterdays. The performances really deserve that fourth star but the play itself never quite builds up enough power to overwhelm with the horrors AI might have in store. Marjorie (Anne Reid returning to the stage with a beautifully judged performance) is 85, lives with her daughter Tess (Nancy Carroll) and has a handsome young companion in Walter (Richard Fleeshman) who seems a regular visitor. But look how he retires to the side of the living toom in Tess’s home and just sits there. It takes a while but he is, of course, a Prime, an avatar of Marjorie’s husband as a young man. She may have a fractured relationship with her daughter because she is suffering from dementia, which is not getting any better, but she can recall her past with Walter. Tess and her husband (Tony Jayawardena) cope with the way life is treating them which we see in a series of short scenes with the blinds covering the picture windows lookout to sea falling and then rising to see the day advancing. By the end there are more Primes on stage. It is not a showcase piece but a play which calls for quietly understated performances and that is what it gets under Dominic Dromgoole’s direction. Maybe everyone could do with a Walter. Or perhaps having one could be anything but desirable. Given how topical the subject of artificial intelligence is the play could not be more timely.
Director: Dominic Dromgoole.
Set & Costume Designer: Jonathan Fenson.
Lighting Designer: Emma Chapman.
Sound Designer: David Gregory.
Production photograph: Manuel Harlan.