Entertainment » Theatre
This is Mary Brown
by Wickham Boyle
Sunday Jun 21, 2015
Although Mother’s Day has passed, it is never too late to find a way to offer eulogies for the women who toil gleefully or in sodden sadness to raise their broods, “This is Mary Brown” is such a marvelous show.
OBIE award winner Winsome Brown performs this work as an homage to her Irish mother with no sugar coating. We see Mary Brown with her sharp tongue; her drunken disregard for the tiny scary egos of children and her fierce love, all intermingled to create a real mother.
Brown embodies her entire family, Alaskan fisherman father, twin siblings and a host of teachers, priests and friends along the way. With deft switches in stance, or a cigarette held or discarded, she becomes these characters and illuminates the nearly bare, first floor theater on East Fourth Street.
The work would not be nearly so endearing without the hand of director Brad Rouse who allowed Winsome Brown to visit and portray passages that under less sensitive hands might have morphed to mawkish or maudlin. In one scene, a mother asks her daughter to “Come here Pet, put out your hand.” This instruction is in order for her young child to take the ash of a cigarette from a “mum” too drunk to get up and move across a room to properly deposit it, and it becomes a signature moment evincing sadness and humor.
In the end Mary Brown dies of complications of alcoholism that include lack of nutrition, overtaxed organs and a still razor-edged sense of humor. Any of us who grew up in such a household know that the gifts bestowed for comedy, verbosity and a can-do attitude often tend to outshine the terror and confusion of childhood. Winsome Brown seems to possess these skills in abundance as her writing is crisp and cutting and her ability to create characters out of threads is a joy to behold.
The marvelous Irish American actor Geraldine Fitzgerald once remarked that there are only two truly magical theaters in the world, The first floor at La Mama and the Abby in Dublin. This work unites them.
“This is Mary Brown” runs through June 28 at La Mama’s first floor Theater, 74A East Fourth Street in New York. For information or tickets, call 212-475-7710 or 646-430-5374
or visit https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/944634