Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary, Starring Fiona Shaw as Biblical Icon, Closes on Broadway May 5
By Adam Hetrick
The Testament of Mary, starring Tony Award nominee and four-time Olivier Award-winning actress Fiona Shaw as the mother of Christ, ends its Broadway run May 5 at the Walter Kerr Theatre after 16 regular performances.
Authored by Irish novelist Colm Tóibín, the play began previews March 26 and officially opened to mixed reviews April 22 after playing 27 previews. It was scheduled to play a 12-week engagement through June 16.
Despite earning three Tony nominations, including Best Play, The Testament of Mary ends its run prematurely. Acclaimed actress Shaw did not receive a Tony nomination for her performance in the solo play as the forlorn mother who questions the death of her son in the days following his crucifixion.
The Testament of Mary also earned Tony Award nominations for Best Lighting (Jennifer Tipton) and Best Sound (Mel Mercier).
The production marked the first collaboration between Shaw and Warner to premiere in the U.S. The two have earned acclaim for their work on Medea, Happy Days, Mother Courage, Hedda Galber, The Good Person of Sichuan and The Waste Land.
The stage production is based on Tóibín's 96-page novel, which imagines a new account of Christ, one in which his mother questions her son's death, his divinity and the followers who called him the son of God. It was released in 2012.
Shaw spoke about the play in a recent feature with Playbill. "Mary is an icon, and a symbol," who "has probably been filtered in our lives through Renaissance paintings and childhood religion. She's a very distant figure. But this novel maps out a landscape in which this woman has to cope with her son's self-destruction," to try to understand the reasons for his death, "which is agony for her," she said.
"Theatre is an imaginative frame, so the play takes place now," she continued. "The story is in many people's minds now — 2,000 years after the events, the story continues. And like all stories, it has embellishments — different colors, different aspects. So it is going on now. I went last week to see the Piero Della Francesa exhibit at the Frick Collection. In the 15th century, they painted the Virgin as a 15th-century woman. So in this play, you meet her as a 21st-century mother. But the events refer to a time when the Romans did crucify their dissidents."
The producers are Scott Rudin (The Book of Mormon, "The Social Network"), Stuart Thompson, Jon B. Platt, Roger Berlind, Broadway Across America, Scott M. Delman, Jean Doumanian, Roy Furman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Sonia Friedman Productions/Robert G. Bartner, The Araca Group, Heni Koenigsberg, Daryl Roth and Eli Bush.
The production has set design by Tom Pye, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Jennifer Tipton and original music and sound design by Mel Mercier.
According to producers, "In The Testament of Mary the mother of Jesus tells her story of her son’s Crucifixion."
Garry Hynes staged a 2011 premiere of the work starring Marie Mullen at the Dublin Theater Festival. That project, billed Testament, gave life to the novel.
Tóibín's works include "The Blackwater Lightship," "The Master," "The South, Homage to Barcelona," "The Heather Blazing," "The Story of the Night" and "Brooklyn."
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