Open Eye Figure Theatre Presents “The Testament of Mary”

A new Testament gives voice to a grieving mother left behind

Testament of Mary

photo by justin d. gallo photograpy

There’s a thrilling and terrifying arc to the Gospels that tell the life of Jesus, when a provincial preacher starts to travel his homeland with an ever-growing band of followers, his message of transcendent wisdom pushing him inexorably toward a well-known ending (as well as beginning). Along the way, his fame and cosmic purpose grow and his family is pushed away until, in one account, he rejects ties with his mother in favor of destiny. 

Irish writer Colm Tóibín penned The Testament of Mary as a novella and subsequent one-woman play that examines Jesus’ mother’s perspective, witnessing increasingly from afar as her beloved son is pulled away from her until he’s gone forever. It’s intended as a very human portrait of family and loss, as well as the cost of sacrifice. 

“This play is meaty and challenging,” says Natalie Novacek, artistic director of the Loudmouth Collective staging the show this month at Open Eye Figure Theatre. “It places primacy on Mary’s journey as a grieving mother and a survivor in a way that is never touched on in the Bible. I find her story vital to personalizing the life of Jesus.”

I remember my first encounter with the stark and uncompromising narrative of the Gospel of Mark, the accounts gathering freight-train momentum along with the complexity and intellectual heft of Jesus’ teachings—and I remember wondering, What about his family? And of course, along with this, where were the women’s voices, most conspicuously Mary’s? 

Loudmouth is also hosting a series of post-show discussions accompanying this Mary, fostering dialogue about the most redeemable of human traits: sacrifice, love, and the thirst for understanding. After all, they’re at the heart of the Testament.

“The Testament of Mary”
April 21 – 30
Open Eye Figure Theatre