Make sure their memory is never forgotten. How much of your Mother can you lose, before she stops being your Mother? Set in a plain wooden floored open living room, Jonathan Fensome's set is peaceful and feels safe, that home really is where the heart is.

Walter (portrayed by Richard Fleeshman) seems almost other-worldly as a Prime - a person who can be taught facts about a third person and interacts with them, reminding them of the joy and vitality of everlasting memories. Initially, Walter keeps a healthy amount of interaction with the widow (the sublimely superb Anne Ried) Marjorie, to stave off her age-related disease.  Jon (son-in-law) is a firm advocate, but daughter, Jess, seems less convinced.  A few laughs are raised when Marjorie reflects back on fairly modern culture, a singsong in the form of Beyonce's Ring On It and the wonders of Zizi Top, however, the futuristic pair have never seen either of them and exchange bewildering looks even when an iPhone makes an appearance!
At a point (although unclear when) Marjorie dies and is replaced by a Prime. Jess converses with PrimeM and seems to prefer the AI version to the Human. 

 A touching moment radiates when Jess breaks down and blames her brother for his suicide which changed their mother. I would have expected more such moments given the context and contact of that scene. It highlighted mental health in humans - but was left unexplored.  Later Jon is seen describing his dream trip with his wife, then we learn that she hanged herself - again this could have been opened up more.  Jon gets a Prime of her and in the closing scenes all three Primes are chatting, but without really knowing each other. As Jon concludes, a Prime mirrors what is said without any emotional intelligence. 

Jordan Harrison sums up this 80-minute play in one simple line: can AI replicate emotions that run so deeply? I left the Menier with a head full of questions, conflicting thoughts all vying for attention and marinating within the corners of my mind.

It runs until 6 May.


Review: Kay Johal          Photo: Manuel Harlan