Goodman Theatre presents
At 170 N. Dearborn
Written by Thomas Bradshaw
Directed by May Adrales
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays at 7:30pm
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm
Running Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
Illiterate or college educated, people are ignorant! Goodman Theatre presents the world premiere Goodman commissioned production, MARY. Based on a true story, the play is primarily set in 1983 on a Maryland plantation. David invites Jonathan to his parents' home for the holidays. David and Jonathan are secretly dating. David's parents suspect their son is gay and want him 'to come out.' The servants suspect David is gay and want his boyfriend 'to go away.' David is tired of the blatant disrespect and wants to broach the taboo subject... his mother's racism. Over the generations, the family plantation has gone from housing slaves to servants with minimal differentiation. His mother refers to her childhood playmate and current servant as 'Nigger Mary.' Oblivious to his sexual orientation being the house chatter, David sets out on a quest to educate the ignorant. MARY teaches the perils of religious fervor with or without education.
For a show promoted with a gay theme, this MARY isn't campy! Back in the day, homosexuals use to refer to each other as 'Mary.' This practice still exists with older gays. Don't let the title fool you! This show is more Nigger Mary than Queen Mary. Playwright Thomas Bradshaw combines homophobia and racism. The subjects tie together like a big knot in the stomach. Listening to characters' passionate discourse on backwards notions is disheartening, nauseating and enlightening. Persecution inside out! The basic story intrigues. Characters are humanized with internal confliction. The overall scene flow is jerky with an uneven cadence. Under the direction of May Adrales, the set-up starts clunky and putters through to an unsatisfying conclusion. Many times, the scene ends abruptly with a character running or stomping off. It is a series of unnatural and childish speed bumps. Although there are some comedic moments, the religious overtones are prominent and preachy.
The talented cast throws themselves into their characters with mixed results. With his cherubic trademark, Alex Weisman (David) delivers a believable son of a bigot performance. It's his romantic connection with Eddie Bennett (Jonathan) that feels forced and unsexy. A delightfully animated Bennett uses every opportunity to instigate laughter with facial and physical expression. Barbara Garrick (Dolores) is magnificent as a clueless, faded southern belle. Garrick utters offensive remarks with a pleasant matter-of-fact. Myra Lucretia Taylor (Mary) continually transforms from meek servant to Christian fanatic to embolden college student to Christian fanatic. Completely contrary to her entrance, Taylor exits the show with a disturbing, long-winded evangelization.
MARY isn't the gay next door romp. MARY tries for the satirical homophobic humor. MARY leaves me an embarrassed heterosexual Christian. Oh, MARY!
Invited for a 'campy' Valentine date, Steve describes the show with 'interesting, awkward ending.'