Closed 2h 35m
Peace for Mary Frances
Midtown W
67

Peace for Mary Frances NYC Reviews and Tickets

67%
(114 Reviews)
Positive
52%
Mixed
31%
Negative
17%
Members say
Great acting, Slow, Disappointing, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

About the Show

Lois Smith stars in the New Group's new wrenching and caustically funny portrait of an American family in crisis.

Read more Show less

Member Reviews (114)

59
Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated, Slow

See it if If you want to see a dysfunctional family with a dying matriarch. Some good acting.

Don't see it if Directing here is to heavy, actors to confined . Vey slow at times, to long of a show. A show that deals with hospice not for everyone. Dark

40
Lifeless, Soporific, Disappointing, Great acting, Contrived

See it if Zzzz... you want to see an excellent cast... Zzzz... portray a routine family... Zzzz... dealing w/the slow death of the matriarch... Zzzz..

Don't see it if you have any hopes that the great Lois Smith or the accomplished Lila Neugebauer can inject life into this prosaic, uninspired borefest. Read more

Critic Reviews (33)

May 23rd, 2018

“Alice and Fanny’s continuing enactment of a lifelong rivalry for Frances’s love is, in theory, perfectly believable...But they do it so bizarrely and relentlessly throughout the overlong play that you wonder what Thorne wants to show us....Every scene that seemed well-observed on the page felt dreary and obvious when performed, a problem I ascribe not to the actors...but to the mystery of stage time...Staged with uncharacteristic awkwardness by the terrific director Lila Neugebauer."
Read more

May 24th, 2018

"I never imagined I would spend a whole night hoping Lois Smith would die, but such is the unexpected effect. Smith is not to blame : At 87, the great stage actor is in peak form, and gives a detailed, convincing performance...The situation is rife with potential tension, but first-time playwright Thorne and director Lila Neugebauer can’t seem to locate it. Dramatic events arise and disappear willy-nilly...Most of the play (at least half) seems like dull, episodic flab."
Read more

May 23rd, 2018

“Proves so lifeless that you find yourself in the uncomfortable position of wishing its main character would get on with it. It's a shame, because a formidable ensemble of talented actors has been assembled...But their efforts are not enough to lift the turgid dramatics of this work by newcomer Thorne...Her inexperience is revealed in the piece's tonal inconsistency and awkward transitions, suggesting that it would have benefited from further development.”
Read more

May 25th, 2018

“A new play with sensitive writing, informed acting, wise and naturalistic staging...A profound work by a fresh talent...So beautifully written that it is impossible to believe it’s the playwright’s first play...What saves 'Mary Frances' from becoming maudlin is the superb ensemble work, headed by the great Lois Smith, the sublime writing, and the naturalistic style of gifted director Lila Neugebauer that adds up to the kind of moment-to-moment realism we haven’t seen since Elia Kazan."
Read more

May 23rd, 2018

"Navigates a head-spinning number of subjects...With an equally unwieldy number of characters...The motivations of many characters are wildly shortchanged...Never stops feeling like a hastily edited version of a longer play...Neugebauer's usually invisible directorial hand is strangely heavy here...A relatable experience for those who've dealt with death firsthand. Thorne's first-produced play holds a clear mirror up to reality. It just forgot that its medium is theater."
Read more

May 30th, 2018

"There are times when the acting talent on stage does indeed elevate the effectiveness of the material, but film producer Thorne's first stage play is more of a promising outline of a drama without sufficient embellishments to make it interesting...To its author's credit, 'Peace for Mary Frances' makes seamless glides from its funnier moments of family angst to its more subdued scenes, but the end result is more perfunctory than emotional."
Read more

May 24th, 2018

"Despite its very real virtues -- not least of which is an unblinking gaze when it comes to its difficult subject -- falls some lengths short of being a real play. Not even a lovingly directed production featuring a fine cast led by the wonderful Lois Smith can entirely paper over this stubborn fact...The director, Lila Neugebauer, handles these materials with supreme delicacy, getting polished performances from her cast."
Read more

May 23rd, 2018

“There is an unwieldy amount of information to take in...Part of the problem lies in the fact that there are two storylines here, either of which could support a play on its own...Smith gives us a richly developed character...Neugebauer manages to keep all of the moving parts in motion within the play's overwrought structure, but there so much going on that it feels like we are binge watching a reality TV show that is unfolding in real time.”
Read more

May 23rd, 2018

"Through Thorne’s first act, her handling of the mounting wreckage is strong. Everything about the increasing strain seems persuasively observed...The cast members are top-notch...Ubiquitous director Lila Neugebauer is the extremely capable referee...Observing how one specific unhappy family copes with the attenuated death-and-dying experience is welcome, although it does overstay that welcome by a few measures."
Read more

May 23rd, 2018

"Smith has an imperfect vehicle, but she rides it beautifully...The real irony of 'Peace' is that for all the resolve Mary Frances shows in her final decision, the play’s winding second act suggests that Thorne may have been undecided about how to finally wrap things up...Still, Neugebauer keeps the pace brisk and the characters, for all their flaws, sharp. And Smith is a gem...With fine support from her colleagues here, she makes 'Peace' worth the patience it requires."
Read more

May 27th, 2018

"Documentary film maker Lily Thorne's first play, 'Peace for Mary Frances' has the ring of truth so that one assumes that it is autobiographical. On the other hand, it has all the faults of a first play: it is too long for its content, attempts to cover everything in one play, and it resembles a screenplay with its countless number of scenes. Given a first-class production by Lila Neugebauer for The New Group, 'Peace for Mary Frances' is ultimately tedious and unsuccessful."
Read more

May 23rd, 2018

“Well acted and staged but dramatically flawed play...Smith is still well enough to make any play she's in worth seeing...Woven with these fine actors, the visually attractive stagecraft and Neugebauer in the director's chair, there's no denying that this is a painful, insufficiently engaging and overly long play...While 'Peace For Mary Frances' does come with its own amusing moments, they are overshadowed by the gloomy details pertaining to how Mary is helped to reach that sought for peace."
Read more

June 2nd, 2018

"Thorne obviously did much research into hospice care...Yet despite the considerable talents of Lois Smith, Johanna Day and J. Cameron-Smith, the play is long, rambling and tedious. The scenes are choppy and often the characters just seem to be moving from one room to another...None of the characters is sympathetic, not even the dying old woman. So after awhile, it’s hard to care."
Read more

May 29th, 2018

"Directed by the phenomenal Lila Neugebauer, 'Mary Frances' is surrounded by turmoil, and Neugebauer does conflict better than most. Ratchetting up the clashes at every moment she can, this play starts to wear itself down...The play keeps trudging forward towards the end in such a repetitive manner that we start to wish the end would come sooner rather than later...This well-acted but drawn out production needs a bit more concise focus to make it worthy of our attention and time."
Read more

May 31st, 2018

"Thorne’s painstaking approach feels unique. 'Mary Frances' tracks a kind of death that is less typically found in art: planned, scheduled, and mundane in its tragedy...The hospice process is anathema to drama. It’s mostly a waiting game, with little room for surprises. Thorne and Neugebauer don’t try to push against this; instead, they embrace the painful wait...Thorne provides no reconciliation, nor even a final blowout – just a sad stumbling to the end."
Read more

May 24th, 2018

"There are many victims in the new family drama, but perhaps the audience is the most unfortunate casualty, having to suffer through this slow, protracted, insipid production for over two-and-a-half hours...The script is too contrived and contains many contradictions that undermine characters credibility and creates unconvincing situations...The competent cast attempt to dig deep into their characters, but it seems impossible to bring any depth to the shallow script."
Read more

May 23rd, 2018

“An awkward slog of a play that is full of wrong moves — including a little lighthearted Anti-Semitism at its start – and largely wastes the talents of its extraordinary cast...Neugebauer does what she can with the material...There are a few watchable scenes...There are also a few details that, under different circumstances, might be intriguing...But these moments don’t compensate for all that is obvious, irrelevant or annoying.”
Read more

May 30th, 2018

"It's a situation that…is one many audience members will definitely recognize…All this material plays like an infomercial on…homecare for a loved one…Directed…at a ploddingly naturalistic pace, the episodic play's many scenes slog along…as the conversations hit one expected topic after the other…Since Mary Frances's fate is sealed, all Thorne can do is to gin up tension by stirring family resentments, particularly those related to the sibling rivalry between…Fanny and…Alice."
Read more

May 24th, 2018

"Smith is giving a searing performance...The play provides an especially nasty family portrait, with endless, mean-spirited bickering..Despite the excellent cast and the memorable acting by Smith, Thorne’s drama runs too long, a difficulty Neugebauer can’t solve even with her often piercing staging. One can tire of the infighting and feel that all that needs to be said could be done in a shorter time...There’s only so much of this family that one can or should have to take."
Read more

June 4th, 2018

"Anyone who has experienced the decline and death of a nonagenarian parent or grandparent will be struck by the piercing familiarity and hyper-realism of this play, which wunderkind director Lila Neugebauer unpacks with great discipline and measurement over the course of its two and a half hour length...Ms. Day and Ms. Smith-Cameron’s feud is particularly vicious to observe, and both actors are in top form."
Read more

May 24th, 2018

"The play is an entertaining and often compelling comedy-drama for its first half. It will resonate with so many, especially middle-aged and sandwich-generation folk living through the stress of caring for ailing elders. But like the sharp-tongued old lady at its center, it loses focus not far into the second act...The fine cast under the direction of Lila Neugebauer makes Mary Frances’s family seem very real...Mary Frances remains compelling when she’s present, but the pacing lags."
Read more

May 23rd, 2018

“A lifeless drama...Feels more like an instructional primer on what to do when a loved one is dying than a dramatic work that sheds light on what can be a devastating time...Neugebauer has little to work with here, unable to bring life to Thorne’s deadening dialogue and forced conflicts...Despite an extremely talented director and an acting legend, Thorne’s debut is on life support from the beginning, and it goes on far too long before the plug is pulled.”
Read more

June 3rd, 2018

"Unfortunately Thorne loads up the story with so many characters and sub-plots, the show sinks under its own weight long before the final curtain...The various characters are only half-developed, while the audience experiences numerous plot lines which are often left hanging...Both the acting and directing are more than adequate here...Lila Neugebauer's direction moves the story along nicely as she works to bring some extra life to the various moments of tension and confrontation."
Read more

May 23rd, 2018

"Perhaps the main way 'Peace for Mary' distinguishes itself is its resolute lack of character growth, bridges mended, open conversations, and the other usual tropes...I am not someone who demands happy endings. But if you're going to ask me to sit through a grueling two hours and forty-five minutes, you've got to give me something. A hint of growth...Reasonably well-written, and the cast is quite good."
Read more

May 23rd, 2018

“End of life crises have seldom seemed so endless...Thorne has a fine ear for dialogue, deeply attuned to the way family members can nurse resentments and pick at each other’s scabs to deflect from any self-reflection...But Thorne also weighs down her drama with a lot of circuitous plotting and didactic exposition about the nature of hospice care...We are left without the climactic family confrontation or catharsis for which we’ve been bracing.”
Read more

May 24th, 2018

"Thorne’s painful and beautiful play...Neugebauer keeps the plot turns moving with delicacy and nuance. And it’s mesmerizing...The work seems at peace with allowing characters to tell their stories step by step, word by word...This new play is both heartbreaking and hopeful, presenting a stage of life that’s too long and not long enough. We’re all just doing the best we can."
Read more

May 30th, 2018

"A labored play that attempts to do too much with too many characters, ending up far less than the sum of its parts...Although Thorne is sympathetic to her characters, she writes too many melodramatic, even sitcomish confrontations for them...The family’s conflicts are contrived and often risible...Amid such messiness, director Lila Neugebauer has difficulty getting the play to cohere dramatically, comically and emotionally."
Read more

June 2nd, 2018

"Smith feels completely natural in her discomfort, and her need for finality...Neugebauer mines the emotional depth of these characters, and their relationships...Smith-Cameron is a force of nature, her mere presence radiating a sense of truth, of being in the present...As her crazy sister Fanny, Johanna Day plays a recovering addict who is also manipulative, in an unpredictable, and unsettling way...About the end of life, Lily Throne’s play is unsentimental. And death is relief."
Read more

May 23rd, 2018

“This play, which lacks structure and has characters walking from room to room like robots, is directed by the usually very reliable Neugebauer. But she can add nothing to this, with thoroughly disagreeable characters in a lumbering slice of life drama...Despite some committed performances, it is a completely dismal play with characters that are either objectionable or just plain bores complete with dialogue that sinks into the mundane.”
Read more

May 24th, 2018

"Lois Smith is giving one of the most challenging and dynamic performances I've ever seen from an older actor...It is a nuanced and often witty characterization that is well worth sitting through the show. The show itself is less of a marvel, but it contains stellar performances and is often a queasily accurate depiction of how many of us die...The play is imperfect — it is overlong, it sometimes feels tonally akimbo, and it has a remarkably unsatisfying ending — but there is a lot of truth on that stage."
Read more

May 29th, 2018

"Lily Thorne’s ambitious script is very detailed in its depiction of hospice care—almost a documentary about how the American healthcare system handles death. But when the focus shifts to the relationships among the different family members, the play seems to come to life...Thorne manages to find a surprising amount of laughs in the midst of the morbidity, and director Lila Neugebauer keeps the pace from flagging too much."
Read more

May 25th, 2018

"Played to perfection by Lois Smith, Mary Frances is willful, loving, selfish, tender, peevish, witty, brutal and all else that make mysteries of our mothers...Neugebauer keeps the pace ebbing and flowing as needed, and the cast’s solid performances are a testament to her work with the actors in developing their characters...One is left wishing that the play’s ending had started the second half so the love/hate relationship that torments the sisters could be resolved."
Read more

May 22nd, 2018

"While you might initially think the goings-on of this dysfunctional family was meant to be the main dish of this slightly unwieldy, 2-hour-and-40 minute work, the reality is that it's ultimately the mashed potatoes and peas and carrots to the filet mignon: the plight of ailing Mary Frances, brought magnificently to life by the legendary Lois Smith in another titanic performance."
Read more

Watch This Next (15)

97
Must See!
10K+ Reviews
Opens Sep 14
NYC: Midtown W

This hip-hop infused tuner about America's founding fathers won 11 Tony Awards inc. Best Musical.

Buy
93
Must See!
20K+ Reviews
Opens Sep 14
NYC: Midtown W

In its 17th year, this all-ages musical spectacle tells the untold true story of the Witches of Oz.

Buy
92
Must See!
3K+ Reviews
Opens Sep 21
NYC: Midtown W

A charming true story of a tiny Canadian town that cared for 7000 grounded travelers post-9/11.

Buy