Forward Theater’s “Mary Jane,” performed at the Overture Center, brought some unexpected perspectives to an all too common story.
The play “Mary Jane” is about a mother whose child was born premature. The main character, Mary Jane, struggles to keep up with her son’s medical bills while combating the emotional and physical strain of caring for her sick son, Alex.
When I walked into the theater, I expected a play that would depict the stereotypes of a sick child. I anticipated Mary Jane to show the audience steep medical bills, long nights and hospital visits.
While these realities were presented throughout the performance, another perspective was given that I had never been exposed to.
In “Mary Jane,” the audience is shown not only the tangible realities of caring for a sick child, but also the emotional and intangible ones, that I feel most people can only understand if they’re in a similar situation to Mary Jane.
In a little over 90 minutes, I was thrown into a world of a middle-class, single mother living in New York City with a sick child. Clare Arena Haden, who acts as Mary Jane, is phenomenal. The way she attached herself to a fictional character was beyond me.
My favorite part of “Mary Jane” is that it doesn’t just expose you to the realities that someone like Mary Jane faces, but it really makes you think. My brain is swarming with ethical questions and a newfound perspective on my own daily complaints of life.
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All of the actors, who each play two characters, were great. Their ability to switch roles was outstanding. When actress Tohsha Freeman switched roles, I kept disagreeing with myself that she was really the same actor. That’s amazing.
The show is unbearably sad, but it has added bits of humor that makes it tolerable. And while I think the playwright Amy Herzog added these in for that reason, I also think it’s the only thing, besides having Alex, that makes Mary Jane’s life tolerable for her own self.
She is an energetic, optimistic woman, who is constantly beaten down by reality. Yet, she still looks for the good, despite a constant uphill battle.
I strongly recommend attending “Mary Jane.” I left in tears and watched the show in tears, but I felt energized after leaving the theater. Bring some tissues, but don’t be scared of “Mary Jane.” I was deeply upset by what I watched, but I’ll tell you that I’ve looked at getting another night of tickets already. You’ll leave sad, but you’ll also leave with a better appreciation for the little things in life.