MARY GETS HERS Gets It Right — Review
The question of whether the urtext of Mary Gets Hers, Emma Horwitz’s zippy new comedy presented by The Playwrights Realm at MCC Theater, is problematic or not, sexist or not, is one the play mischievously brushes off whenever its characters commune with god.
That original work, Abraham, or the Rise and Repentance of Mary, was written by the 10th century canonist Hrotsvitha, variously considered the first female historian, German poet, and other superlatives. A morality tale about Mary, who lives a life of sin before recovering under strict penance, it could be a powerful tale of a woman’s determination, or another installment in a long line of religious misogyny.
Which is it? In Horwitz’s revision, there’s a whole lot of, “God? If you agree with me, and what I’m about to do, don’t say anything,” hold for approval – and laughs. From this cynical view of self-minded blessings springs a semi-reclaiming of the work in which Mary (a delightfully rubber-faced Haley Wong) outwits every man around her.
It begins with the hermit Abraham (Susannah Perkins, fluttering Emma Stone eyes with twice the comedic urgency), who finds the newly orphaned girl in the woods and takes her in to “protect” her. Uh-huh. His friend and brother-in-Christ, Ephraim (Octavia Chavez-Richmond), is more invested in ensuring his betrothal to god remains top of His mind.
Mary escapes and, with the hermits, and their soldier friend (Kai Heath), vaudeville-shufflin’ behind her, finds a roof in the home of an innkeeper-pimp (Claire Siebers), and spends the next few years of her life cycling through his numerous “friends” (also played by Siebers). She doesn’t seem to mind, her brat-power temperament stronger than their visits.
If, at this point, you find yourself wondering how lightly Horwitz could deal with the idea of a 12-year-old girl smiling through years of trafficking, director Josiah Davis keeps things light and breezy. The cast, stipulated to be composed of “women, non-binary, trans, and gender-variant actors” seem to have it under control. And, at just 90 minutes, who’s to argue with girls who just want to have fun?
Mary Gets Hers is in performance through October 14, 2023 at MCC Theater on West 52nd Street in New York City. For tickets and more information, visit here.