Closed 1h 35m
Mary Jane
East Village
82

Mary Jane NYC Reviews and Tickets

82%
(172 Reviews)
Positive
91%
Mixed
7%
Negative
2%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great writing

About the Show

New York Theatre Workshop presents Pulitzer Prize finalist Amy Herzog's new play about the struggles and joys of a single mother with a severely ill toddler.

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Member Reviews (172)

70
Disappointing, Dated, Slow, Great acting

See it if you like the actors, who do a great job with what is given to them. Coon brilliant.

Don't see it if you want a story, ​not a documentary. Read more

74
Great acting, Interesting, Informative, Overrated, Slow

See it if Great performance by Coon & Cast. Seems to be a very realistic depiction of the hardships of dealing w/ a terminally ill child.

Don't see it if A snapshot of a brief period, the story doesn't cover much ground but it does inform, at times it feels more like a documentary than a play.

Critic Reviews (42)

September 25th, 2017

"A heartbreaker for anyone human...The play, under Kauffman’s ideally detailed direction, is not out to answer any questions. In that sense 'Mary Jane,' with its ordinary name, is a character study, an Everywoman story..But 'Mary Jane' is nevertheless a very big drama, even if its conflicts are almost never between people. They are instead between Mary Jane and her unspoken ideas about life—that is, God. To me, this makes 'Mary Jane' the most profound and harrowing of Herzog’s many fine plays."
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September 25th, 2017

"There are no villains here, only people doing their best under sometimes crushing circumstances. All are rendered in lovely detail by Herzog and the five women of the cast, directed by Anne Kauffman with characteristic attention to the importance of offhand nuance...Herzog shows the strain of Mary Jane’s situation—layered with beautiful reserve by Coon—but she also succeeds in dramatizing kindness, attentiveness, honesty, connection."
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September 25th, 2017

"Though it’s meticulously crafted, 'Mary Jane' feels like such a recognizable slice-of-life that it’s difficult to get a sense of the urgent physical need at the heart of the piece, the thing that demands that it be a work of theater...It shows us a very hard life, and that’s pretty much all it does...What keeps 'Mary Jane' afloat is its ensemble...It’s a portrait of someone who deserves recognition, but whose story has yet to take full advantage of the power of its art form to make us see."
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September 29th, 2017

"Herzog’s beautiful new play...Coon is an appealing performer, but at first I was put off by her characterization—sometimes it felt as though she was working on one level, until I realized that Mary Jane hardly ever deviates from her optimism because she’s a preternaturally optimistic person...I was much more taken by Colón-Zayas and Wehle...'Mary Jane' is Herzog’s most satisfying work to date because it has verisimilitude that many contemporary realistic plays don’t."
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September 25th, 2017

"This beautiful new work is directed with ultra-naturalistic subtlety by Anne Kauffman...By virtue of its elegant structure, its expository economy, its gentle humor, fine-grained characterizations and knack for sharp observation cloaked in seemingly casual glimpses of a life, 'Mary Jane' sidesteps the banalities of the medical drama to become something richer...While the entire cast performs with real warmth and feeling, everything is understated and unerringly believable."
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September 25th, 2017

"Amy Herzog’s devastating new work...is must-see theater for anyone with a heart...Mary Jane is a person of many parts–and Coon respects and relates to them all...The beauty of the character and the wonder of Coon’s performance is that, through it all, Mary Jane succeeds in maintaining her upbeat nature, her life-affirming optimism, her wonderful sense of humor. Believe it or not, this play is full of laughs. They just happen to be on the morbid side."
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September 28th, 2017

"Ms. Coon’s new supporting cast is perfect, as is Ms. Kauffman’s discreetly compelling staging. As for the play, it is, here as in New Haven, overwhelming, a wrenching tale of everyday heroism that is all the more touching for its total lack of sentimentality. I’ve never seen a more honest portrayal of the day-to-day demands of caregiving, or a more moving tribute to a mother’s love. It might just be Ms. Herzog’s best play to date."
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September 25th, 2017

"Coon's work in the title role of Amy Herzog’s slow burner of a play, 'Mary Jane'...coils, quietly and almost imperceptibly, to a climax that, like the death of a loved one, strips us to the core, no matter how well-prepared we think we are...Mary Jane threatens to be campaigning for sainthood, but every time she approaches a threshold, playwright and director conspire brilliantly to remind us how forcefully human she is."
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September 26th, 2017

"For a heart-piercing ride-along on the avalanche of emotion engulfing the parent of a desperately ill, incapacitated child, playwright Amy Herzog exceeds her own fine record of accomplishment with 'Mary Jane'...Carrie Coon plays that mother smashingly in New York Theatre Workshop's impeccable production, flawlessly directed by Anne Kauffman...Herzog invests in each of her characters a beguiling sense of authenticity."
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September 25th, 2017

"One of the triumphs of this clear-eyed, compassionate and engaging play at New York Theatre Workshop through mid-October is that it upends expectations even if it doesn’t ever take drastic turns. Fine writing and feel-real dialogue each have ways of exerting an insistent tug. The same holds for strong acting...It’s a heavy story, but still infused with humor. Director Anne Kauffman’s deliberately paced production brings out the lightness and gravity."
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September 25th, 2017

"Mary Jane is played with extraordinary grace by Carrie Coon...Much like her deeply authentic performance, 'Mary Jane' is perhaps the realest play we'll see all year, one that is precise in its details and is delivered with exceptional dignity by director Kauffman...Herzog's delicate script is infused with lines and references that go beyond a writer's everyday understanding of the subject matter...The play tugs at the heartstrings without being manipulative in the way that so many dramas are."
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October 2nd, 2017

"To say that there are no dramatic highs and lows in Herzog's touching new drama is by no means a criticism. It's more of a recognition of the beautifully understated naturalism in both the playwright's text and in Kauffman's production...There's a good deal of realistic humor, played a as natural reaction to an impossible situation but, while never directly stated, the play's focus is a damnation of a nation's system of health care."
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September 25th, 2017

"'Mary Jane', a beautiful new play written by Amy Herzog and directed with naturalism by Anne Kauffman, will only burnish Herzog's stature as a writer of subtle introspection and uncanny insight...Herzog has miraculously crafted a piece that is brimming with humor and warmth despite its grim subject matter...A moving play about everyday life you'll think about long after you leave the theater. You'll count yourself lucky that life isn't yours."
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October 4th, 2017

“Though it's built around a dramatic subject, Amy Herzog's new play proves as bland as its title. Under the circumstances, it's hard to decipher Herzog's intentions with ‘Mary Jane,’ which concerns the mother of a prematurely born baby, a baby we never see, even though his presence is felt throughout the play. As surefire as Herzog's ambitions were with her earlier plays ‘4000 Miles' and 'Belleville,’ she seems uncertain about her feelings toward her title character in ‘Mary Jane.’”
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September 25th, 2017

"A luminous Coon strives fearlessly to make 'Mary Jane' work as a drama. And she comes awfully close to succeeding. But she can’t quite manage to give the spirited, often funny, but ultimately directionless play a raison d’être...A character study of a vibrant flesh-and-blood character. But it doesn’t go anywhere new or deep. It’s a huge cut above a disease-of-the-week TV movie in terms of its intelligence and its lack of sentimentality, but at its core it’s not all that different."
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September 25th, 2017

"Thanks to Herzog's gift for listening to people...and the performances of the entire ensemble as subtly directed by Kauffman, there are enough moments to allow some lightness and laughter into this grimly realistic play...It's Mary Jane's continuing overall human caring and curiosity and Herzog's dialogue for those interactions with the people she comes in contact with that make 'Mary Jane' a touching group portrait despite its meandering plotlessness."
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October 3rd, 2017

"A flawless production…In one of the best performances of the new season thus far, Ms. Coon tries to maintain a facade of ease over an almost unbearable inner tension, tirelessly coping with her fate and hoping against hope...Each scene flows seamlessly into the next with a slow and even pacing that captures the audience. You know you are doing something right when even the smallest of laugh lines results in tension-releasing guffaws…The supporting cast, all in dual roles, also shine.”
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October 8th, 2017

"Mary Jane is exquisitely portrayed by Carrie Coon....It’s a beautiful crafted construction...It’s clear the playwright understands this topic from a deep emotional and raw place, that causes the anguish to echo throughout the theatre. We give our heart over to Mary Jane, completely without question. The ending is complex, surprising, yet authentic, and we embrace a sense of clarity that comes from the unclear connection to peace and understanding. "
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September 26th, 2017

"Herzog’s poignant new play, 'Mary Jane,' is timely...This is a heavy play with little respite from grim reality, except for some truly funny one-liners. Some rather over-detailed exposition in the writing and slightly fussy and fiddly direction from Kauffman can give the impression that this is a fly-on-the wall documentary film rather than a play...Will resonate with anyone who has ever had to deal with a medical crisis."
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October 6th, 2017

"Jellinek’s set design here is closed in, cramped, claustrophobic – much like Mary Jane’s psyche...Coon’s multilayered performance counterpoints the rich layers of Herzog’s script which, under Kauffman’s razor-sharp direction, are peeled back with sensitivity and grace...Mary Jane experiences the breadth and depth of transcendence and catharsis at the play’s end in a scene rich in magical realism immersed in blessed redemptive release."
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September 26th, 2017

"A series of casual, seemingly random conversations, interrupted by emergencies of greater or lesser severity...'Mary Jane' requires patience–more patience than some theatergoers might be able to muster. Mary Jane slowly reveals more about her life, her child and her hardship as the play progresses, and we gradually come to understand just how much it takes for her to remain both diligent and hopeful...There is great skill on display in the five-member cast."
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September 25th, 2017

"An intelligent yet understated work that nonetheless almost blunts its own power...When Alex is rushed to the hospital, the story gains some urgency. Mary Jane begins to transform, and we finally see the pain and anger...There are no easy answers to be had, no deep revelations. In the end, Herzog leaves us with a delicate understanding that life, whether we are the mother of a sick child, a struggling college student or an overworked employee, is what we choose to make of it."
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October 4th, 2017

"Amy Herzog's affecting play…reminds us that ordinary people can be saints and that religion has nothing to do with it…The…dramatis personae obviously has a feminist slant but that doesn't prevent the play from being an engagingly moving portrait of a particular mother's travails. Herzog's generally naturalistic dramaturgy sometimes seeps into theatrical contrivance…but it remains consistently involving and occasionally eye-moistening…The acting…is thankfully restrained and fully believable."
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October 13th, 2017

"Do women really want to sit through this heartbreakingly depressing play?...What makes no sense is the goodness and hope that fills Mary Jane. She has nothing...The whole play is waiting for the inevitable...Carrie Coon brings this play full throttle, with a subtly layered performance which is breathtaking...Anne Kauffman’s direction keeps us off balance...Herzog is saying much in this play, at times by saying very little."
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September 28th, 2017

"There can be no question about the seriousness with which Herzog has tended to her work...Bolstered by Kauffman’s stringently compassionate direction, Herzog more than competently gives three-dimensional life to what is a case history with full details, and as such occasionally slows down on the dramatic beam...Herzog doesn’t quite find the entirely satisfying ending to her 'Mary Jane,' but at least those glimpses do leaven a work effectively poignant and very personal."
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October 18th, 2017

“Compact but wondrous...The focus is on his ultracompetent single mother, Mary Jane, played with crystalline, almost scary serenity by Carrie Coon...The writer’s mix of sympathy and showmanship is gorgeously ruthless...Kauffman’s clear-eyed production balances cool distance and precisely deployed humor and warmth to ratchet up the tension and stakes. Neither play nor staging pander to base desires for cathartic tears or medical miracles...An exquisite, bracing drama.”
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September 25th, 2017

"Herzog captures the heroic nature of Mary Jane’s daily struggle without placing her on a pedestal. Coon’s naturalistic portrayal is immensely powerful. The other actors are strong as well. There are flashes of humor, but one does not expect a happy ending. The low-key final scene initially disappointed me, but, on further reflection, I decided that its tentativeness supported the play’s honesty...It was a heartbreaking, but also uplifting experience."
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October 6th, 2017

"Shattering...By indirect means, Herzog, Coon, and director Anne Kauffman reveal the overwhelming details of Mary Jane’s stoic existence...The play unfolds with compassion, yet at the same time, it’s unsparing in its matter-of-factness...Coon delivers the most heartbreaking, yet un-theatrical performances in recent memory...A hyper-realistic, no-nonsense view of a tragic situation."
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September 25th, 2017

"The excellent Coon shows us the quotidian business of trying to move moment to moment as options are taken away and positive vistas diminish...Coon has a quixotic energy as Mary Jane, who can be in control, blasé, dry, and utterly desolate...'Mary Jane' ends on an intriguing and ambivalent note, and one which could signal life-altering tragedy for Coon’s character and for her vulnerable son, or a moment of supreme enlightenment. Or maybe both."
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September 25th, 2017

"Herzog and director Kauffman opt for an ultra-naturalistic approach that draws us into the grueling monotony of watching over a child at imminent risk of death...All this quotidian patter, which never strikes a false or melodramatic note, is overlain by the mortal tension of the beeps coming from medical equipment...Anchoring that tale of irredeemable woe is Coon’s intense yet understated performance. Her Mary Jane holds the stage, sustained by a love that is both cool and relentless."
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October 20th, 2017

“Heart-wrenching and bittersweet…Beautifully rendered…Carrie Coon is extraordinary as Mary Jane…Nothing is normal, anywhere, in this brilliantly realized world…'Mary Jane' is primarily about a single mother caring for her seriously ill child, yet it is also about so much more, particularly fear and faith…Coon plays Mary Jane with an intoxicating warmth...while the rest of the excellent actors each take on two roles that cleverly relate to each other."
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September 27th, 2017

"Told with infinite grace and attention to detail. Kauffman has skillfully maneuvered four actresses who play eight characters in support of Coon...Coon avoids all semblance of cliché in playing the stoic Mary Jane...'Mary Jane' offers us more of an education on the intricacies and pain this mother must suffer than it does a story of suspense or one with surprise twists and turns...But the writing is so on target, the performances are so truthful, I found myself absorbed most of the way."
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September 25th, 2017

"Subtly and smartly written by Amy Herzog, subtly and smartly directed by Anne Kauffman, and subtly and smartly acted by Carrie Coon, Liza Colon-Zayas, Danaya Esperanza, Susan Pourfar, and Brenda Wehle, 'Mary Jane' is one of those great evenings in the theater when the whole is larger than the sum of its parts, and its parts are damn good...There is much humor in the play, and tremendous compassion. It's exhausting, devastating, and beautiful."
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September 25th, 2017

"Buoyed by a radiant performance by Carrie Coon, 'Mary Jane' emerges as a sharply observed character study...Director Anne Kauffman’s skillful production reinforces the virtues of Herzog’s characteristic understatement...Coon is the perfect partner for Herzog’s unfussy naturalism, delivering an indelible performance of a woman pushed to the edge of her abilities, with no easy answers and no easy way out."
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September 27th, 2017

"There’s quiet devastation in the all-female voices of Herzog’s 'Mary Jane'...Herzog’s play does explode, but gently, exposing life around the edges of achingly ordinary domestic details...Each actress crafts characters with worlds of their own, adding new dimensions to the world of Mary Jane. Director Kauffman respects the nuanced pace and tone of the scenes and conversations...The revealing accumulation of events, like the revealing of the sets, sketch out Mary Jane’s complexity."
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October 16th, 2017

“Beautiful, incredibly nuanced...One of the most finely-wrought productions I've seen in a long time seems evenly distributed across the entire company...One of those shows that grabs you quickly, and then only gets better the more you think about it...Quietly descriptive...Its refusal to slop into cheap sentiment is especially noteworthy...It's an astonishingly good production of an astonishingly good play...Make this the one show you rush out to see before it closes.”
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September 29th, 2017

"Herzog has so subtly built the play—and director Anne Kauffman has so skillfully echoed the playwright’s desires—that one doesn’t see the conclusion coming. The performance was remarkably moving. At the end, there was a brief, silent pause. Then the audience broke into unusually strong applause. Performances are excellent. Carrie Coon easily carries the play, with strong support by all the cast...A remarkable theatrical achievement."
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October 3rd, 2017

"The exchanges that make up the bulk of 'Mary Jane' are well-acted and nuanced; what drama there is springs from the often-implied means the characters use to solicit support and strength...Kauffman directs the play as a chamber drama television show, meeting Herzog’s naturalistic speech rhythms with a staging that values stillness over action...What emerges is not so much a sketch of lone woman...but a portrait of a community of women, both onstage and off, vibrating uniquely, as one."
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October 25th, 2017

“It was an incredibly compelling piece of theatre...It is a great play and production...Herzog has found a gifted collaborator in director Anne Kauffman, who maintains a laser-like focus on the journey of Mary Jane...The play rests on the shoulders of its incredible cast...A masterful turn of writing...If it may be said that a work of art has a soul, then this is such a work.”
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October 10th, 2017

“An episodic portrait of the title character: a young, single, working mother (Carrie Coon) with the activity at the center of her life being the care of a chronically sick (always offstage) child...Under the unobtrusive, naturalistic direction of Anne Kauffman, ‘Mary Jane’ is a subtle, stage vérité portrait without answers; only empathy. Which is, here, appropriate and sufficient.”
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October 5th, 2017

"Features a strong cast, realistic dialogue, sharp insights and a few surprises...The action is slow and steady, especially in the first half...The play becomes somewhat tedious, although the pace picks up significantly in the second half...Outside of the performances, the strength of 'Mary Jane' is Herzog’s dialogue...You do not need to have a child to appreciate this production and what it is trying to say about life, death, health care — and just taking it one day at a time."
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September 28th, 2017

"The excruciating suffering of a sick child can be alleviated by community, 'Mary Jane' seems to say, but there is no escaping it. It is this push-pull between the momentary reprieve that (female) support offers, and the persistent undertow of despair that provides the fascinating momentum of 'Mary Jane'...It’s a play with unexpected grace and optimism, and one that offers faith in the power of communion."
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