The Testament Of Mary: a unique take on the Jesus story

Loudmouth Collective performing at Open Eye Theatre, 506 E. 24th St., Minneapolis, through April 30

Adlyn Carreras in The Testament Of Mary. Photo by Justin D. Gallo.

Intense emotion recollected in the tranquility of old age. That’s the vibe of the affecting The Testament Of Mary, a solo piece adapted by the accomplished Irish writer Colm Tóibin from his novel of the same title (Loudmouth Collective).

In The Testament Of Mary, Mary, mother of the revolutionary/preacher Jesus – though she adamantly refuses to say his name – recalls the details of Jesus’s life, with especial emphasis on the horror of his execution. Now known as the Crucifixion. What messes Mary up the most is the fact that as Jesus became God, he also became a stranger, an outsider. “Who are you?” he defiantly asks his mother. “There’s a new strangeness in the world.” Thus, when Mary witnesses his death (something she’s tricked into) she’s watching the passing of a man who’s both her son and a stranger. Even in old age the emotion of this is raw and lethal. This is all I’m going to say.

Are you a believer? See The Testament Of Mary. It will provide you with a unique perspective on the Jesus story. (Keep your mind and your heart open.) And if you – like me – are not a believer, then see The Testament Of Mary as a vivid portrait of the passion of motherhood. “I tell the truth because I must.”

The piece is performed by actor Adlyn Carreras, who lends the material quiet passion. As Mary wrestles with her – dare one call them demons? – there’s a lovely sense that the emotions she’s compulsively evoking could overwhelm her. Director Jessica Rose McVay and sound designer Katharine Horowitz have fashioned an intricate soundscape that nicely reinforces the play’s action.

I hope Carreras is able to spend some quality time with the text, as this reviewer sensed that she was often struggling to remember her lines. This didn’t affect the emotionality of the piece (and this is to Carreras’s great credit). But it may have adversely affected the play’s rhythm.

Definitely worthwhile.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, about the magic of bedtime stories, has recently been published. His screenplays, A Slaying Song Tonight and The Deflowering Of Father Trimleigh are under option. Please visit his informational website.

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