Marjorie Prime at TheatreWorks 

Fans of the British TV series Black Mirror will no doubt enjoy Jordan Harrison's play Marjorie Prime. They share similar concerns and a digital culture-meets-Twilight Zone ethos. Fans of Memphis theater may appreciate it more as a coming-of-age moment for the still relatively new Cloud9 Theatre Company.

It's incredible just how detailed a world you can build when you drop a little colored light on a square of white carpet decorated with not much more than a comfy-looking chair and footstool. All you need is a vivid story and somebody who knows how to tell it. Marjorie Prime, a dramedy about artificial intelligence units developed as companions for the elderly, has both. And Cloud9 brings it all to life in its simple, yet stylish production.

click to enlarge Life on Cloud9
  • Life on Cloud9

What will the world look like when we're all dead and gone? In the world of Marjorie Prime, it seems likely that artificial intelligences created to run human systems will keep them going in our absence while Primes — incredibly lifelike (a few zillion pixels) holographic representations of loved ones who preceded us in death — will sit around sharing memories that were never theirs to begin with. Maybe they weren't even ours.

There's plenty of conflict in Harrison's script, but few confrontations. Even in its darkest moments the story maintains the uncommon lightness and quirky appeal of a George Saunders short story.

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