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Marys Seacole

From 15 critic and 72 member reviews
Members say: Ambitious, Great acting, Confusing, Thought-provoking, Dizzying

About the show

In Lincoln Center's world premiere, an ambitious Jamaican woman is determined to live a grand life. More…

Her adventures take her across oceans and eras, from a battlefield of the Crimean War to a contemporary nursing home, and many times and places in between. "Marys Seacole" is an exploration of what it means to be a woman who is paid to care.

Front Row Center

"These six Marys come together to weave a wild tapestry that shatters the normal ideas of story-telling...As Mary, Bernstine sparkles...The movement is fluid, and once we get over the first transition we are in lockstep...This extraordinary cast, brilliantly directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, delivers the goods that Drury created. It is a majestic piece of work that takes no prisoners. Pay attention or get left behind. This is the style of the play and the lasting echo that follows you out the d... Full Review

The New York Times

"Breathless and radiant new play...Directed with head-spinning velocity and shape-shifting flair by Lileana Blain-Cruz...Individually, there’s nothing strikingly original in most of these scenes...Seen collectively, though, they become a dazzling hall of mirrors...Ms. Drury gloriously confirms her status as a playwright for whom the long view is disturbingly, divertingly and endlessly kaleidoscopic." Full Review


"A powerful and arguably long-overdue tribute...Contemporary and historical scenes bleed together, staging a rich continuum in just 90 minutes...Drury tempers her perspicacity with surefire wit that will keep you laughing as the light bulb goes off in your brain...Director Lileana Blain-Cruz delivers well-choreographed pandemonium that sacrifices nothing in terms of clarity...One hell of a play." Full Review


"Drury bends, suspends, and ultimately shatters conventions of time and space altogether, in order to tease out threads of inheritance systematically overlooked by the churn of western history. Somehow the play is also a total hoot. This is a spectacular feat, accomplished with a sharp sort of expressionism by director Lileana Blain-Cruz." Full Review

The Wrap

"Both Marys were born in Jamaica, and are played in grand style by Quincy Tyler Bernstine, giving the performance of this winter season in New York City...Bernstine manages the time lapses seamlessly, and is immeasurably aided by Lileana Blain-Cruz’s direction, which is both over-the-top and precisely what a big saga like 'Marys Seacole' requires...The ensuing spectacle of two titanic actors ripping into each other makes riveting theater." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"In Ms. Drury’s extensively fictionalized, magically realistic play, Mary becomes a symbol of the spirit of caregiving who is reincarnated time and again. The pluralized title is indicative of her varied versions...Drury dramatizes the successive phases of Mary Seacole’s life with pith and vigor, aided by the equally resourceful staging of Lileana Blain-Cruz...Blain-Cruz makes all the rough places plain, and the result is an exciting, involving show that catches you up from the first scene on... Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"Lileana Blain-Cruz’s tight, controlled production immediately gives us that little thrill of delight that comes from the incongruous...The six women of 'Marys Seacole' are all delivering fierce, finely calibrated performances...'Marys Seacole' is in many ways an act of remembrance for the unremembered. It’s a fierce, complex eulogy and, like 'Fairview,' an exhortation to see both past and present better." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"'Marys Seacole'...will alternately shock you, bewilder you, infuriate you, amaze you...and leave you with a huge helping of food for thought...This is a playwright of fierce passion and determination. She knows how to grab an audience’s attention and keep it...Scenes are enacted by a superb ensemble of six actresses, including others playing multiple roles...Under Lileana Blain-Cruz’s sensational direction, the action builds to a crescendo at which the centuries and characters blur." Full Review

Theater Reviews from my Seat

"I cannot be sure I understood it all. I am, however, resolute in my admiration of this incredibly inventive narrative...Lileana Blain-Cruz has impressively directed this challenging and thought provoking work. Individual moments are never less than interesting and occasionally are mind blowing. Quincy Tyler Bernstine is a colossal Mary...Highly recommended." Full Review

New York Theater

"In this challenging, disorienting, and powerful collage of a drama, Drury seems to be using this one remarkable woman’s biography to try to say something larger – about race and gender; about what it takes, and what it takes out of you, to be a caregiver...What is the playwright trying to say? There are plenty of clues – maybe too many...Such lack of tidiness in plot and point might inspire some audience confusion or impatience. But it worked for me." Full Review


"It's inspiring to watch a woman whose self-confidence is almost unnerving - even when her hauteur can admittedly be off-putting - and whose dedication is to the greater good is never in doubt. It also helps immeasurably that she (they?) are portrayed by the always-spectacular Quincy Tyler Bernstine in a commanding performance that anchors this 100-minute fantasia." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"The playwright attempts to pack a lot into this intermissionless work's 90 minutes. Too much so, in fact, leaving the audience struggling to connect the confusing narrative dots. Mary Seacole's arresting story is too often left in the lurch, and the link between her and her modern-day successors isn't as emotionally resonant as clearly intended...The performances by the six-woman ensemble...could not be bettered, with Bernstine outstanding in the central role." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"With its nonlinear structure, mashing up of situations, strong Jamaican accents, and several themes, the play is challenging to follow as it becomes increasingly expressionistic in style. The conclusion is scarcely coherent and demands clarification...Although the playwright does not fully control and articulate the themes of her ambitious, sprawling play, 'Marys Seacole' remains a thoughtful consideration of the women who serve others more than themselves." Full Review


"The 90-minute piece tends to be more stylized than dramatically effective, but Drury convincingly makes her point about the short shrift Mary Seacole has been handed by history, as well of the lack of appreciation for those who carry on her legacy." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Provocative, yet confusing work...It needs to be acknowledged that Drury’s calling attention to the determined Seacole is commendable, as is her admiration for the invaluable benefits of widespread medical care...Actually, it’s Drury’s zeal that gets the better of her as her 90-minute play runs its anfractuous course...Drury has too much she’s compelled to say. She loses control of sorting her ideas so that audience members can follow them." Full Review

Brilliant. riveting. must see.

See it if Astonishingly powerful examination of gender, race, and ethnicity. Compassionate and angry, tragic and funny. Unforgettable.

Don't see it if I sometimes had trouble understanding accents when speech was rapid and overlapping. (But ultimately, not a big problem.)

Also I think Jackie Sibblies Drury is perhaps the best playwright of the cu... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Challenging, Exquisite, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if You’re open to experimental theater, bold questions about racial roles in caregiving, and want something provocative, bold, and rewarding.

Don't see it if You’re looking for a straightforward narrative or aren’t open to work that is more about themes and ideas than traditional plot.

Riveting, Thought-provoking, Dizzying, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if you want to be immersed in an abstract, multigenerational portrait of resilient femininity in the face of horror, colonialism, and war

Don't see it if you think this sounds like a play about "women's issues."

Thought-provoking, Great acting, Clever, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you relish innovation and like to be challenged. The performances are excellent and the ideas timeless. The theater is quite small.

Don't see it if you like conventional, linear plays.

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

See it if you enjoy complicated commentaries on relationships between immigrants and whites in America. With great acting and writing.

Don't see it if you are not interested in human stories that also have political connotations.

Also I was completely enthralled from the moment that the play began. The p... Read more Read less

Profound, Intelligent, Exquisite, Great acting, Clever

See it if you love Quincy Tyler Bernstine, she is one of NYC's like being challenged in the like boundary pushing play form

Don't see it if you're expecting something always logical and don't like to be're not ready to bring yourself to the piece

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

See it if you love great acting by all, especially the brilliant, always spot on Bernstine; beautiful writing, directing and choreography.

Don't see it if you want a linear storyline - here time keeps changing though many attitudes do not; some saintly personas become unsaintly and vice versa.

Also Based on a true story that takes liberties with time, events, personal... Read more Read less

Funny, Poignant, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if you like all-female casts and production teams, plays about motherhood, being a daughter, a caregiver, an immigrant and a historic figure

Don't see it if you don't like stylized plays, different directing/acting styles in one play, breaking of the fourth wall, plays that don't hold your hand

Also Truly one of the most intriguing and well acted pieces I've seen in ag... Read more Read less

Great staging, Thought-provoking, Riveting

See it if Extraordinary, shatters the stage, time and space to think through global care work, invisible labor, and race. Killer staging and acting.

Don't see it if Went with a friend, who thought the entire play was too high-keyed & a constant state of screaming. She hated it. So your mileage may vary.

Real theatrical magic

See it if you, like I, know nothing about the title character and are open to having a wild ride and learning something along the way.

Don't see it if you must have linear plot development in order to enjoy a play.

Also Stick with this, because the total is way more than the sum of its par... Read more Read less

Riveting, Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if Chaotic and intelligent.

Don't see it if Non-linear, multi-layered requires focus

Thought-provoking, Great acting, Epic, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if A powerhouse performance by Quincy Tyler Bernstine in the lead, sharp direction by Lilieana Blain Cruz, brilliant new play by Drury

Don't see it if If nonlinear work is not for you

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if You love historical fiction plays that make you want to learn more about the character(s) — especially if they’re relatively unknown.

Don't see it if You’re not interested in stories that focus on feminism and racism.

Profound, Edgy, Great writing, Great acting, Clever

See it if You want to hear a tale of a courageous black woman from Jamaica. Her story is still being played out today, therefore the multiple Marys

Don't see it if You are not comfortable with the struggles of women of color. Also, have issues with accents.

Relevant, Quirky, Intelligent, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy original theater that speaks intelligently about relevant issues while being very entertaining.

Don't see it if you prefer traditional linear storytelling with no zany twists.

Masterful, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Confusing, Absorbing

See it if You’re interested in the subject of “hidden figures.” Mary Seacole was lost to history but through this play & a UK movement is no longer

Don't see it if You desire linear storytelling because this is a hallucinatory time-traveling reverie.

Also This is a creative exhibition of stagecraft. It’s one of those where I... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Frenetic, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy explorations of race, story telling, support among women etc. told in a nonlinear and prism-like fashion.

Don't see it if need traditional theater with linear plot, character development, etc. Staging is often over the top and loud and frenetic.

Thought-provoking, Indulgent, Great acting, Clever, Ambitious

See it if for a glimpse into little known American history, different take on women's issues & racism, non-linear but thematic narratives

Don't see it if Need linear storyline & actors playing same character or be guided through themes, don't like feminist plotlines or ingenious chaos on stage

Layered, Dizzying, Great writing, Great staging, Clever

See it if You're not afraid to work to keep up. This circling, timeshifting history is fascinating as you catch up and piece together its parts.

Don't see it if You want to be spoonfed, are uninterested in being disoriented, and don't care to see confident direction of difficult work.

Challenging, Relevant, Intense, Ambitious

See it if You want to see plays that push theatrical forms; thoughtful, deeply felt work; tired of conventional American dysfunctional family stories

Don't see it if you want something happy, comforting, and safe; have trouble with accents; uncomfortable with not knowing exactly what's going on

Intelligent, Great writing, Edgy, Relevant, Great acting

See it if if you're a fan of Jackie Sibblies Drury, you want to see a stellar Quincy Tyler Bernstine, if you enjoy plays that are nonlinear

Don't see it if if you like conventionally structured plays

Relevant, Intense, Dizzying, Great acting, Clever

See it if You are intrigued by Jamaican/British history and also want to explore modern Jamaican caretakers. You enjoy women's plays.

Don't see it if You want avoid all shows about race or shows that feature both strong and weak women. Also, violence in wars is front and center and loud.

Profound, Great staging, Great acting, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if Current most talented ensemble cast in NYC expertly navigates scenes which range in time period and physical location

Don't see it if Like a series of fever dreams in a blender; requires audience will care enough to reflect upon all the scenes as a whole

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if great performances and ensemble with interesting story

Don't see it if somewhat confusing and at times messy but still interesting

Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great acting, Delightful, Clever

See it if You want to see phenomenal actresses play multiple roles flawlessly. An intricate plot and a commentary on race and immigration.

Don't see it if You want a linear plot and want to understand everything that is happening. There is a great deal of time warping and melodrama.

Cast & Creatives (13)