By David Walters
Director Josiah Davis has with only drapes as the set design, dramatic lighting coupled together with the depth of non-lighting, a couple of props, suggestive costumes, wild imagination, creative choreography, a sense of humor, and gobs of talent, put together a charming tale Mary Gets Hers penned by playwright Emma Horwitz drawing its inspiration from one of the world’s first known female dramatists writing in the 10th century, Hrosvitha of Gandersheim (c. 935–973), and her play Abraham, or Fall and Redemption of Mary. Hrosvitha wrote, from a sacred cloistered Christian perspective (being a nun betrothed to God), about the strength of women in direct response to the Roman playwright Terence and his views of the conniving weakness of women and their diminutive role in society.
Horwitz’s play is called Mary Gets Hers which is being produced by The Playwrights Realm and is their first production since 2019. Due to fantastic ticket sales their run has been extended to October 14 in The Susan & Ronald Frankel Theater in The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space (511 West 52nd Street), where The Playwrights Realm is this fall’s company-in-residence. Tickets are available here.
It’s an over-the-top romp through pious medieval Christianity that both makes fun of and appreciates the devotion and dedication involved in a sequestered life.
Abraham, a monastic hermit (Susannah Perkins), brings his orphaned niece, Mary (Haley Wong), into the monastery to safeguard her from the evils of the world. After years of seclusion Mary is (maybe) seduced by a devil in monks clothes and leaves her protectorate to find another life and (maybe) becomes the main draw in a house of ill repute. Abraham asks a traveling knight friend to find her (Kai Heath) and two years later he does. Abraham (in disguise) seeks Mary out to convince her to repent and come back to the monastery. Abraham explains that human nature is to sin, and it is not one who sins who deserves condemnation, but one who fails to rise up from the sin.
All of this is done with a little tongue-in-cheek mocking with only slight reverence to the medieval mindset about life, death, and salvation. There are parts that are a bit ambiguous in the telling of the tale, but overall, Mary Gets Hers is uninhibited and unbridled play. The fun this terrific ensemble is having presenting this 10th century story is infectious and the silliness of it all is a joy to be part of.
The creative team is You-Shin Chen (Scenic Design), Camilla Dely (Costume Design), Cha See (Lighting Design), Kathy Ruvuna (Sound Design), Claire Yenson (Casting), Kate Croasdale (Production Stage Manager), Sammy Landau (Assistant Stage Manager), and Five OHM Productions (Production Supervision).
Mary Gets Hers runs 90 minutes. The seating is general admission with no reserved seats.
As always, this is just one person’s opinion in a world filled with them.