NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, December 14, 2015, 9:00 PM
Before it even arrived Off-Broadway, “Marjorie Prime” had big buzz — and expectations. That’s par for the course for a Pulitzer finalist being made into a movie starring Jon Hamm.
Author Jordan Harrison reflected on the 1950s in his earlier work, “Maple and Vine.” Now he looks to the near-future. Primes — therapeutic humanoids with artificial intelligence — feed memories to people with age- or disease-addled minds.
Like 86-year-old Marjorie (a peerless Lois Smith, who seems to age backwards in the show). She relies on Walter (Noah Bean), a prime, who looks like her late husband at age 30, to fill in the gaps.
The crux of the story is that primes know only what they’re told. Should stories of our lives be edited so they’re more sunny and sanitized? If our minds are incomplete, are we our true selves?
Marjorie, her deceptively fragile daughter Tess (Lisa Emery, marvelous) and her husband Jon (Stephen Root) confront such queries over time. Meanwhile, A.I.-motored machines become an increasing presence in their lives.
Under the direction of Anne Kauffman, the acting is seamless. And this carefully calibrated 70-minute meditation on morality and memories exerts a gentle but insistent tug. But it doesn’t doesn’t dive deep enough to make a lasting impact.