Second Stage presents Tracy Letts's drama, which offers a haunting portrait of a complex woman, and demonstrates how a series of forgotten moments can add up to one memorable life. Starring Tatiana Maslany. More…
If you looked back on eleven moments from your life, would you recognize yourself, or would you see a stranger? Mary Page Marlowe is a seemingly ordinary accountant from Ohio who has experienced pain and joy, success and failure.
“I called it ‘the most purely beautiful play that Mr. Letts has given us’ in my review of the Chicago premiere, and now...it looks—if possible—even more impressive...The plausibility of this production is also owing in large part to the six actors who play Mr. Letts’s small-town everywoman, all of whom look and sound as true to life as a sequence of snapshots by a master photographer. No less worthy of praise is the equally masterly staging of Lila Neugebauer." Full Review
"The best play I’ve ever seen about the life and times of a woman written by a man...Letts and director Lila Neugebauer...do a beautiful job moving from scene to scene; even though events happen out of order, Mary Page is in a constant state of progression...The six amazing women who play Mary Page flow into one another seamlessly, helping make her one person with many distinct aspects." Full Review
"It's a testament to the sensitivity of Lila Neugebauer's production of 'Mary Page Marlowe,' and the subtle connective thread binding the half-dozen actresses playing the title character at various ages, that the silences are when Tracy Letts' drama achieves its sharpest poignancy...The unimpeachably naturalistic dialogue reveals major and minor shadings throughout, but it's in the brief wordless moments of overlap during scene changes that the play's quiet force creeps up on you." Full Review
"Remarkable...There’s something powerful—and truthful—about seeing Mary Page grow and change into all of these different women before our very eyes...Director Lila Neugebauer knows how to handle episodic storytelling, and her work here is no exception; her subtle, purposeful transitions give Letts’ decade-jumping story precisely the connective tissue it needs." Full Review
"These biographical elements, presented out-of-sequence…put the onus on the audience to fill in the blanks relating one to the other. As Letts' careful stagecraft and convincingly natural dialogue, gracefully abetted…by sensitive direction…gradually pull things into focus, the connection between the scenes and the varying time periods becomes clearer. We thereby witness how a personality evolves over time, never standing in one place, but also never abandoning what it once was." Full Review
"Director Lila Neugebauer, who brilliantly grasped the big theatrical gestures in 'The Wolves' at Lincoln Center, is just as scrupulous about defining small but definitive moments...The episodic structure is as integral to the play as its content. It’s up to us to fill in the blanks, because this is how life is lived, in little fits and starts that we later recall and either re-live in our minds or decide to forget." Full Review
"Fascinating...While the play’s wide scope keeps the audience at a bird’s-eye remove, its components are vivid close-up snapshots. Director Lila Neugebauer keeps Mary Page in hard, revealing focus even as the character sometimes smudges herself in denial or passivity. 'Mary Page Marlowe' combines moments of crisis into a longer view of time. It approaches life—this one life—with something that feels like wisdom." Full Review
“I found this intimate series of snapshots quietly moving...Letts can be a bit too on the nose. Scenes reinforcing the theme of the randomness and collage-like nature of Mary Page’s life pop up a mite too often. But the majority of the vignettes provide piercingly realistic moments in a woman’s life...A complicated script...Yet we are always certain who is who and where we are in Mary’s story. This is due to Lila Neugebauer’s economic and fluid direction." Full Review
“Lovely, wrenching...Laid out not chronologically but rather like brilliantly designed puzzle pieces, which often pierce us as we assemble them...Under Neugebauer’s rigorous, compassionate direction, the different women cast as Mary Page reveal how she comes to accommodate loss and dismay...Letts has given us, once again, a portrait of humanity that is simultaneously scathing and forgiving — and utterly unpatronizing." Full Review
“The story is an expertly selected set of key points in this woman’s life...It’s a kind and cruel and glorious ride...Neugebauer elegantly choreographs movement in, around and through the scenes of this tone poem of a play. This is deeply feminist, personal storytelling, with an imperfect, fascinating character who doesn’t yield her story to anyone else. On the page, the play is haunting. On stage, from direction to design to each of the polished actors, it offers a harrowing but human world.” Full Review
"Gripping...Some of those moments flirt with inconsequence or facile symbolism...Another confidently expressive staging by Neugebauer, makes it coolly legible...On-the-nose moments...sometimes left me feeling that 'Mary Page Marlowe,' however gorgeously acted, might not be hiding much of anything in the switchbacks of its distorted chronology. But with patience, and some unscrambling to restore the story’s natural order in your head, you may find a few powerful American themes arising." Full Review
"An engaging non-linear cascade of kaleidoscopic vignettes from the title character’s life...There is dysfunction in each of these vignettes; however, it is what underlies the dysfunction – the trauma involved in the vicissitudes of life – that energizes Tracy Letts’s script and makes Mary Page an 'Everywoman'...Under Lila Neugebauer’s exquisite direction, the actors playing Mary Page each give intriguing performances." Full Review
"Do we direct the course our own life or does life merely happen to us? That's the major existential question faced by the title character of Mary Page Marlowe, Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts' fascinating and slightly frustrating Chinese puzzle of a play, getting a spiffy New York premiere. And perhaps to no one's surprise, Letts never gives the audience a definitive answer -nor does he provide one for Mary, whom we see at 11 different moments of her life." Full Review
"Beautifully written but strangely staged...The quality of Letts’ writing comes in the zeroing in on specifics to reveal the greater contours of Mary Page’s character. The frustration watching the play is in the bittiness and static feel of the staging..How did Mary Page really get from there to there, you wonder at some moments. Letts very deliberately isn’t telling. Rather than a flaw, it is a mark of the brilliance of his writing—and its clever demand on our own watching imaginations." Full Review
“A fascinating, fragmented portrait of one ordinary woman’s journey through life, embodied by six actors in eleven time-hopping scenes. The tension of what happens to us versus what we control haunts the text as Mary Page traverses decades, surfing waves of feminism amidst the shifting roles of women from mid-century America to the present. Letts, director Neugebauer, and an ensemble cast of 18 create a mosaic that is compelling, if ultimately mysterious.” Full Review
"Part of what makes those minutes feel so long is that the different periods are arbitrarily jumbled up, seemingly willy-nilly, instead of occurring chronologically. Not only we but the playwright and director Lila Neugebauer have to rely a lot on scene designer Jellinek and costumer Voyce to help us know where we are when. Letts himself tries to help the situation with period references, such as when Mary Page is in college, referring to the film 'Charade,' which starred Audrey Hepburn." Full Review
"The end result is neither totally satisfying, nor is it disappointing...The Mary Pages, each find moments of quiet engagement between the different stages...It’s a patchwork piece and as directed with an achingly delicate sense of quietness by the wonderful Neugebauer, the separate square pieces of engagements with this very big cast and its central figure comes together like a finely crafted memory quilt." Full Review
"While it is very interesting to have Mary Page played by six actresses, they are so very different in looks that the effect is sometimes jarring. It is also difficult to see...why she couldn’t have more control of her life. But on the other hand Letts is stressing that life can take unexpected sharp turns against which one is helpless. Neugebauer makes it relatively easy to follow the mixture of timelines, which makes the play provocative and intriguing." Full Review
“Letts's new play, directed by Neugebauer at Second Stage is a worthy addition to his credits...The chronology is carefully jumbled so that the pieces of Mary’s life come together in offbeat ways...For the most part, Letts’s writing is crisp and far from boring...The set seems too bland, but it has to cover a lot of bases with quick changes. The production itself, though, is an intriguing experiment in time and punishment.” Full Review
"Director Lila Neuberger deftly threads these stories and women (woman?) together...I almost wish the Mary Pages could speak to one another through space and time...Maybe they could have helped each other cope, or issued warnings, that would have made the story a bit less formulaic. Nevertheless it’s interesting watching Mary Page Marlowe unfold all the parts of herself that made her who she is — laying all her cards out on the proverbial table." Full Review
"Engrossing, if needlessly grandiose...Neugebauer impressively binds the six Mary Pages together in spiritual unity, with mannerisms and attitudes carrying through the performances...While Neugebauer finds some beautiful opportunities for the different Mary Pages to cross paths during the scene transitions, these echoes in time don't feel especially resonant ...Good enough for a summer evening at the theater, but not as extraordinary as it could be." Full Review
"Though fitting the pieces of the puzzle together can be fun, the lack of any kind of through-line makes the experience more clinical than emotional. Under Lila Neugebauer's direction, the play is very well-acted and the choice to not have any connecting mannerisms among the six actors playing the title role seems to bring home the point that people can evolve into drastically new versions of themselves." Full Review
“'Mary Page Marlowe' doesn't have the fire and fury of 'August Osage County.' But any theatergoer who appreciates fine acting and willing to tackle a challengingly structured play won't want to miss seeing it...Both an intriguing and frustrating play...Ultimately Letts's reliance on a casting and story-telling structure...does leave one wondering if he didn't think Mary Page's story was indeed too insignificant and banal to deserve a fuller 'August Osage County' treatment." Full Review
"Intriguing, yes. Ambitious, yes. But coherent? Unfortunately, not. The multiple Marys flash by so quickly that we absorb very little..If the chronicle doesn’t quite come together, it’s not for lack of direction. Neugebauerkeeps things moving at Letts’ rapid pace...Letts seems to be attempting to write an 'Osage County'-sized yarn on a single pad of yellow paper...We expect the playwright’s intriguing notion would be better served if he gave the story and his many Marys more space to breathe." Full Review
"Each scene in this play (and the scenes are not chronological) brings with it one or two little pilot lights that stay with you. They do not, however, connect to one another. Nor do they ever accumulate into a fire. They never have the chance. We are pulled from one time and space to another, and just as something begins to simmer, the scene ends and the next begins." Full Review
See it if Non-linear puzzle play w/great acting. We see scenes in-between major events in Mary Page's life. Her character growth occurs off-stage.
Don't see it if You don't want to spend time after the play figuring out what happened. You don't like multiple actresses playing the same character.
See it if you enjoy thoughtful & carefully constructed meditations on life & being a woman in America, where the sharpness is all between the lines.
Don't see it if you prefer linear chronology & things spelled out for you (having multiple actresses play MP works surprisingly well, but takes some focus).
See it if You like theater that is patient and finds beauty and drama in the small things.
Don't see it if You are more concerned with connecting A to B instead of letting tone drive the story.
See it if you are interested in what makes up an individual life and what drives things not done and done. delving in the life of an ordinary woman.
Don't see it if don't like puzzle pieces--the show is not chronological and it could be hard to follow for some. don't like serious and deep plays.
See it if A serious play with a nonlinear narrative appeals to you and you are comfortable with the patience and attention required
Don't see it if You would be bothered by the lack of temporal sequence and the fact that the main character is played by six different actresses
See it if You want a beautifully acted and inventive staging of a woman’s life from childhood to old age. An authentic show with a range of emotions.
Don't see it if You want something uplifting. The play can get dreary and the end leaves you questioning the playwright’s objective.
See it if for a passionately acted, one scene after another intense personal drama.
Don't see it if you can't concentrate on figuring out an intricate puzzle or have no feeling for people baring their souls.
See it if You are up for the life story of complex character, Mary Page, portrayed by 6 actresses under Tracy Letts' brilliant direction.
Don't see it if you prefer uncomplicated stories where concentration is not required.
See it if You enjoy plays that have great writing and superb acting!
Don't see it if You do not like plays or thoughtful writing. There are time jumps in the play that may cause confusion, but the outcome brings clarity.
See it if you enjoy an intense play analyzing a character's turbulent life.
Don't see it if you have trouble following a play where the age of the leading character goes back and forth (jumps around).
See it if you are a fan of Tracy Letts. It's very well written and staged and quite ambitious for an Off-Broadway theater.
Don't see it if you are looking for production value. It's a quiet show about an ordinary woman. It's also a confusing timeline.
See it if Naturalistic script performed by wonderful actors, including Blair Brown, Tatiana Maslany and Streep's daughter Grace Gummer.
Don't see it if Simple story executed in a non-linear format.
See it if If you want to see a meaningful play which will transform you!!!
Don't see it if If you want to miss the work one of the best writers of the moment! Great insightful moments and brilliant ensamble acting and directing!!!!
See it if you enjoy the way Letts crafts three dimensional characters through specificity and how Neugebauer can endow a gesture with meaning.
Don't see it if you don’t like dramas or must root for the protagonist.
See it if you like "slice of life" cinema, plays with a lot of jump-cuts through time, psychological portraits, empathetic portrayals of unlikeables.
Don't see it if you're expecting a traditional narrative structure. This is more of a character study of the life of an "average" American woman.
See it if You enjoy well-written drama about the many chapters of a woman's life, performed by terrific actors.
Don't see it if You don't like women's stories and serious plays about the reasons our lives take the twists and turns they do.
See it if you like a rich character study,presented as out-of-sequence scenes.Episodic structure is uneven, but the pieces that do work are excellent!
Don't see it if you get bored or run out of patience easily, prefer a more linear story line or looking for lighter theater fare.
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