Perhaps the most thought provoking and controversial production produced at the Goodman Theatre, the performance of Mary is one of artistic divinity. Within an astonishing 90 minutes, playwright Thomas Bradshaw transports his audience into a world we all would much rather choose to not call reality. Moreover, each of the four actors are no longer simply people but symbolize their own greatest struggle. Topics of racism in America, our established system of education, generation gaps, tradition, the current war to fight for “equality for all” under the Constitution, and, more interestingly, whether we should leave things “the way they are.”
Homophobia and racism has the most mind explosive effect on audience members, especially when the two are so directly similar it proves that our values as Americans are still not yet acceptable. The reaction to each character and each scene caused varying reactions in the theatre, whether it be from the common theatre folk or those who clearly thought they were going to see a movie. Young and old filled the seats to see the performance of Mary, unsure what to fully expect.
Most controversial in the play was the acceptance that all humans are flawed characters to a grander picture. Realizing that African Americans are still not fully equal and gays are certainly in desperate need of emancipation for being condemned for all these years, audience members are able to self reflect on their own stereotypes and the society in which they live. The end, which Bradshaw chooses to end with a shock and awe, demonstrates that even those who are educated can become oppressive.
So contemporary is Bradshaw’s work that even Proposition 8, the discriminatory fight against same sex couples is currently taking place. All parents and children must go see the newest version of this extraordinary and thought provoking performance, unlike anything I’ve seen this season and certainly will result in high expectations for those to follow.