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. 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.'
"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
"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
"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
“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.” Full Review
“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.” Full Review
"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
"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
"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
“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
"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
"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
"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
"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
“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." Full Review
"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
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"'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." Full Review
"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
"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
"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
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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
See it if You enjoy interpersonal relations, can use your imagination for unseen characters, want to see the strength of being a mother
Don't see it if You only like happy plays, don’t care about the struggles of others, are bothered by the same actor playing multiple parts
See it if Powerful, emotional story about a single mother trying to make a life for herself & her handicapped child
Don't see it if It's a very serious play about a very sad subject
See it if It's a wow,fabulous writing incredible acting.this is what the theater should be
Don't see it if .beyond intense,no one moved. You need to be in the right mood for this,if not wait till you are
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
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.
See it if Masterful writing of single woman whose humanity beyond a bulletproof exterior is slowly revealed as situations prove burdensome
Don't see it if Production budget concerns require double casting from a talented cast that one may not expect from a first class production
See it if you appreciate beautifully told stories about the world we live in, love seeing complex and intelligent women onstage
Don't see it if you don't want to see illness or struggles onstage in a very poignant way
See it if you're a fan of Carrie Coon. This may be her best work to date.
Don't see it if you want a light evening of theater. This definitely has its laughs, but expect to shed a few tears along the way.
See it if You want to see a play that builds beautifully in an artfully calibrated production building quietly to profound emotional resonance.
Don't see it if Issues of child illness are too close at hand. It is a sensitive portrait, but I imagine deeply challenging if the issues are nearby.
See it if you're interested in a play with exquisite acting, writing, and directing that uses a specific subject to explore how to live life best
Don't see it if you don't like sad plays, even if they're elevated and made inspiring by beautiful storytelling
See it if you want to see a writer/director/ designers at the top of their craft, with a sad, difficult subject and outcomes, honoring heroic mothers.
Don't see it if you can't handle seeing theatre holding a mirror to some of life's most difficult parenting situations with no clear ending in sight.
See it if You like stark playable about by difficult issues. Fantastic acting. A hyper realistic set. Thought provoking, emotional play.
Don't see it if You want something light and cheerful. This is serious and intense. Deals with difficult issues involving a very sick child.
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
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.
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
See it if You want a show that has depth in it's simplicity, and has a cast that brings Herzog's beautiful play to life.
Don't see it if You have no tolerance for subjects associated with children with special needs.
See it if you like thought-provoking stories that provide an honest view of life with a severely ill child.
Don't see it if you can't bear heart-breaking stories that grab your attention from beginning to end.
See it if You can get involved in a heart wrenching absorbing, life story.. Like insightful writing, and terrific acting.
Don't see it if You're looking for fun, lively light entertainment--and if you didn't like the staging of Marvin's room.
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.
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