Ends Oct 29

Mary Jane

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great writing
41 reviews
147 reviews

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.

... Read more

During a rain-drenched summer in New York City, Mary Jane navigates the mundane, shattering, and sublime aspects of caring for a chronically sick child. 'Mary Jane' marks a return to New York Theatre Workshop for Herzog and her two-time Obie Award-winning director Anne Kauffman. The two previously collaborated on 2013's 'Belleville.'


Cast & Creatives (12)

Reviews (188)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score


"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Time Out New York

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Village Voice

“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.” Full Review

New Yorker

"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." Full Review

The New York Times

"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." Full Review

Theater Life

"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." Full Review

New York Theater

"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." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"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." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"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." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"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." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"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." Full Review

Front Row Center

"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.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"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." Full Review

New York Daily News

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"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." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"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. " Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"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." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"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." Full Review

The Washington Post

"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." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Great writing, Slow

See it if You’re interested in very real stories and dialogue about heavy, topical issues, including healthcare and disabilities.

Don't see it if You’re not interested in depressing plays about parents dealing with sick children.

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Great writing

See it if you want to see a show that really hits you in the emotions. It's a show that will hit hard

Don't see it if watching someone deal with an incredibly difficult situation will be particularly upsetting to you

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Great writing

See it if You want to be challenged, not feel comfortable, and walk out feeling that you’ve just seen something extraordinary.

Don't see it if You have issues with disease, want a laugh riot, or expect big showy performances. They were excellent, but quietly real. Amazingly done.

Absorbing, Delightful, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if you want to watch a superbly written and performed work of art on a subject that matters. Right up there with Dear Evan Hansen

Don't see it if you would have a problem with the subject matter

Absorbing, Exquisite, Wonderful ensemble work from five great actresses, Beautifully directed by anne kauffman, Amy herzog's best work to date

See it if you want to see a marvelous ensemble of female actresses in what is destined to be one of the best plays of this theatre season.

Don't see it if you have problems dealing with a play about a chronically ill child.

Funny, Great acting, Masterful, Resonant, Great writing

See it if Want to see a flawless well written and performed production.

Don't see it if You can't watch a play about cerebral palsy, even though the plot evolved with grace at all times.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see a play that shows how a sick child impacts on the mother and the people around her.

Don't see it if you don't want to see a play about a sick child.

Also This is a well-acted play with moving scenes of a mother's emotions du... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You are a fan of the playwright and/or the talented cast members.The plot revolves around a mothers' coping with her young son's illness.

Don't see it if Plays involving the illness of a child and the effects on the mother don't appeal to you. The play discusses religion,social issues,health.

Great acting, Overrated, Engaging, Well-directed, Quiet

See it if you would enjoy a very well done and beautifully acted depiction of a woman devoted to a sick child with a few wonderful scenes and moments.

Don't see it if you want to see a play with a lot of character movement, exploration of character motivation, interesting ideas, or beautiful language.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you want a well written, well acted, well stage story exploring the life of a single mother whose child has disabilities. Really EXCELLENT!

Don't see it if you were looking for Jersey Boys.This play is touching without being maudlin.It is eye opening, very real.Go see it.The actors are terrific

Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant, Great writing, Cliched

See it if you want to see a solid modern play delivered flawlessly by an expert cast

Don't see it if you demand larger themes or big social statements out of your pieces

Enchanting, Profound, Relevant, Lovely, Heartbreaking

See it if Beautiful, touching story about a mother's love that knows no bounds. What a rewarding experience.

Don't see it if You don't want to explore suffering and sacrifice as a source of meaning in life.

Great acting, Intelligent, Indulgent, Overrated, Great staging

See it if you relate to plays about the struggles of young mothers dealing with exceptionally adverse conditions.

Don't see it if you've already seen more than enough plays about young mothers coping with adversity.

Great acting, Indulgent, Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated

See it if You're interested in exploring a mother's experience of a terminally-ill child. Sensitive portrayal.

Don't see it if You haven't gotten enough sleep.

Also I'm baffled by all the clamor about this; slow and tedious often perfo... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Resonant, Great writing

See it if You enjoy intense powerful dramatic punches to the gut, great enemble acting, a production that puts women front and center.

Don't see it if You are looking for fluff, entertainment, or easy resolutions.

Sad, Funny, Absorbing, Intense, Resonant

See it if you like a drama that has also has humor and a show that explores the contradictions in medical care for serious conditions.

Don't see it if you can't deal with family illness.

Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if Amy Herzog's beautiful writing is of interest; excellent actors in multiple roles appeals; life and death subject matter isn't scary for you

Don't see it if a troubled and deeply challenging mother/child relationship or the subject of disability is too close to home.

Also Herzog is a brave writer. I wish she was brave enough to cut the final... Read more Read less

Great acting, Intense, Great writing, Excruciating, Slow

See it if enjoy well written dramas about single mothers with children that have critical health issues. It deals well with some shared problems

Don't see it if plays that tug on emotional heartstrings are difficult for you.

Great acting, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if you want to explore travails of a single mother raising a handicapped child. Performances by Susan Pourfar are worth the price of entry.

Don't see it if this subject matter cuts too close to the bone for you, or if you don't want to leave the theatre sad.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense

See it if You like theater that moves you even if it breaks your heart a little.

Don't see it if You get queasy about illness.

Good acting. well done. very depressing story.

See it if You want very serious depressing drama.

Don't see it if You want an entertainment that's light.

Great acting, Disappointing, Slow, Dated

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.

Also This is a polaroid of a moment. Nothing happens really. It is just a d... Read more Read less

Great acting, Overrated, Slow, Interesting, Informative

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.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see five understated masters of their craft onstage together. Also, if you like to empathize and ask yourself "What would I do?"

Don't see it if you need a break from family and situational dramas, particularly ones without a neat or clear ending. This piece carries emotional weight.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Slow

See it if Herzog's best work staged & acted with quiet beauty Decidedly feminist w/o preaching tackling serious moral issues evenhandedly Very moving

Don't see it if Pacing a bit slow due to medical issues/terminology Doesn't quite hit universal themes but stays in the particular Questionable ending(s)