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Crazy Mary - Full Length Play, Dramatic Comedy

Crazy Mary

A.R. Gurney

Full Length Play, Dramatic Comedy

2m, 3f

ISBN: 9780881453485

More Information Below:

Description | Characters | Author
: Acting Edition

Full Length Play

Dramatic Comedy

  "Comparisons between playwrights and novelists are almost always misleading, but I’d say it’s more or less accurate to think of A R Gurney as the John P Marquand of American drama. Like Marquand, Mr Gurney writes about WASPs and their discontents, and his ruefully funny studies of a ruling class in decline are too often dismissed as trivial by critics who take no interest in the inner lives of the insufficiently underprivileged. Also, like Marquand, he is prolific to a fault, and his work is as unevenly inspired as it is unfailingly professional. I’ve reviewed several of his plays in this space, always with pleasure—I like his best work very much—but rarely with outright enthusiasm. Thus, I’m glad to report that CRAZY MARY, Mr Gurney’s new portrait of life among the white-bread set, is a highly impressive piece of work, a serious comedy that succeeds in wringing honest laughs out of an awkward subject.   The Mary in question is a middle-aged manic depressive who has spent the past three decades stashed away in a high-priced sanitarium to which her late father consigned her after she made the fatal mistake of sleeping with the gardener. in addition to being crazy, Mary is loaded—she inherited all her father’s money—and when Lydia, Mary’s second cousin once removed, becomes her legal guardian after a death in the family…well, you figure it out, if you can. Every twist in the plot of CRAZY MARY took me by surprise, and none of them disappointed me in the slightest.   What impressed me the most about CRAZY MARY is that Mr Gurney walks with unerring skill along the knife edge that separates comedy from pathos. In truth, there is nothing remotely funny about Mary’s situation, much less her condition, and we laugh at her plight precisely because it is so pitiful. Nor does Mr Gurney let any of his characters off the hook, least of all Lydia, who has spent her own life walking on tiptoe through a a world of tight-lipped propriety in which the most important things are left unsaid…."Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal    "…Aside from the tireless (and seemingly immortal) Horton Foote, no eminent American playwright of the last few decades rivals the staying power and productivity of Mr Gurney. Though he would seem to be limited by sticking to one area of expertise—the malaise and mores of the endangered East Coast WASP—Mr Gurney’s theatrical output is surprisingly varied.   If his essential subject has largely remained the same, he keeps shifting his focus and perspective in admirably venturesome ways, most recently with his fiercely partisan, Bush-baiting political comedies….   As a story of ethnic dinosaurs stranded by history, CRAZY MARY brings to mind vintage Gurney works like THE COCKTAIL HOUR and THE MIDDLE AGES….   His earlier plays had the passive wistfulness of Henry James portraits of unlived lives; CRAZY MARY has the active morality of E M Forster novels, demanding that its characters get off their isolated duffs and connect with the world beyond. The spirit in CRAZY MARY is honorably willing…."Ben Brantley, The New York Times


2m, 3f


A.R. Gurney

A.R. (“Pete”) Gurney was born in 1930 in Buffalo, New York. He graduated from Williams College in 1952, served as an officer in the Navy, and afterwards attended the Yale School of Drama. For many years, he taught literature at M.I.T., but moved to New York in 1982 to devote more time to writing for the theatre. He has won a fair amount of awards during his career, and is now a member of the ... view full profile

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