NYTW’s Mary Jane: When Alex Was Born…2 min read

Mary JaneBy Amy Herzog Directed By Anne Kaufman
Liza Colón-Zayas, Carrie Coon. Photo by Joan Marcus.

NYTW’s Mary Jane: When Alex Was Born…

By Ross for frontmezzjunkies

When Alex was born to the titled character in Amy Herzog’s new play, Mary Jane currently playing at the New York Theatre Workshop, her life changed direction.  “On hold for a minute”, is what Mary Jane, exquisitely portrayed by Carrie Coon (Broadway’s Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf) says of her life and her goals.  The father of Alex, only spoken about now, isn’t able to handle the stress of what Alex’s birth has brought home, and he flies the coop.  Mary Jane, so full of goodness and fortitude, doesn’t hold any anger or frustration against him.  She hopes he finds peace, is basically what she says.  And we hope the same for her in a way, although what that means to Mary Jane is a lot more complicated than what it means for her former husband.  Mary Jane’s peace, sadly will most likely only come in twinned in tragedy.


Because Mary Jane’s child, Alex, was born prematurely with a host of problems that will not just go away.  Alex, as we slowly discover, will never get better, only worse.  The details are teased out to us through some of the most elegantly written intimate and everyday conversations Mary Jane has with her stunningly sincere and deadpan building super, played beautifully by Brenda Wehle (Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide…), Alex’s home-care nurse, Sherry, steadfastly and intuitively portrayed by Liza Colón-Zayas (2ST’s Between Riverside and Crazy) who embodies the frame of a health care worker, Sherry’s niece, Amelia, an impressive Danaya Esperanza (NYTW’s Othello), and the beautifully nuanced Susan Pourfar (Barrow Street’s Tribes), as a similarly challenged new mother, Brianne, who has come for clear and helpful guidance from the constantly giving and sturdy mother, Mary Jane. We never do see Alex close up, because what Herzog, and the wonderfully calculating director, Anne Kauffman have done here is to not give this story over to Alex. Instead, they have channeled their focus onto a mother trying with all her might and energy to stay connected to the feeling of love she has for her son. She won’t allow herself to fall into a state of despair or anger, but is constantly in a positive and forward motion, focusing her surprising energy into upbeat chatter and personal connection. Worrying more about the garden of Alex’s nurse, then the dark clouds that will approach one day or another. (for the full review, click here)

Mary JaneBy Amy Herzog Directed By Anne Kaufman
Carrie Coon, Susan Pourfar. Photo by Joan Marcus.
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Posted on October 8, 2017