If you had been in Czechoslovakia in 1921 and were lucky enough to have seen Karel Capek's science fiction play “R.U.R.” you'd probably, even at 96, feel right at home watching “Marjorie Prime” at the Main Street Playhouse in Miami Lakes. But if, like me, you're a younger chap and have gone to the theater in all innocence, you're going to wade through a sea of huhs? before all becomes clear.
“R.U.R.” gave the world “robot” (Rossum's Universal Robots). Not the clanking, stomping, flame spewing iron men of today, but blood and bone creatures with human emotions. Beware.
So of course human robots with human emotions are rife on stage in “Marjorie Prime” as the brilliant Carol Sussman as Marjorie, slides through dementia to death and beyond. Watch her eyes. The confusion, the fear, the triumph of something remembered, the remembrance of a sexual desire. Slight plot alert here: In Act Two, Sussman's Marjorie makes a complete change and that's just fine.
The Primes are the robot versions of life. Marjorie has Walter, (Chris D'Angelo) the Prime of her dead husband. He consoles her, cajoles her, treats her as his needy wife. He comforts. He is far younger than she.
Marjorie's daughter, Tess, (Fara Sax), sarcastic, bitter, resentful of her second class status, wishes her mother an early death. Tess's husband, Jon, (Harry Marsh), practices a false bonhomie looking for ease in the household. Walter Prime is their nurse's mental aide for Marjorie. This is the future.
Written by Jordan Harrison, “Marjorie Prime” was a 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist, lauded for its emotional range and imaginative story. It is the second offering of the first professional season of the Miami Street Players, a former community theater and some of the cobwebs still show.
Obvious choices, rather than the subtlety of experience, are sometimes evident. More attention to production details can only help.
But the good news is that Miami Lakes finally has its own professional theater company, and it is presenting an enjoyable, unusual play with the gentle journey of Carol Sussman's Marjorie Prime.
Directed by John Olivera.
“Marjorie Prime” runs through May 7 at the Main Street Playhouse, 6766 Main Street, Miami Lakes. 305-558-3737 www.mainstreetplayers.com/msplobbyright