Theater

A Mary Rose By Any Other Name

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Sweet and Low

I have great affection for Peter Pan, but it’s delightful when someone puts on a J.M. Barrie play that does not require a flight harness and yards of green felt. Mary Rose has remained unstaged in New York since 1920 and I for one am very much looking forward to casting an eye upon it. Am planning to come with a purse full of handkerchiefs. While I’m as low affect and blase as the next New Yorker, every time I’ve read the play I’ve found myself weeping.

Mary Rose concerns a young girl who disappears while on a mysterious island. (In an early version, Barrie had called it Peter Pan’s island, but later edited that reference out.) It’s a mournful play, and a very sweet one, concerning not only the ravages of time, but also its consolations.

Its original production, just after the First World War, apparently resonated with the still fragile British audience. Patrick Chalmers wrote of it, “This lovely and spiritual conception was staged in the ugly and uneasy period that followed upon the War…. It brought joy and peace and a tear or two to thousands.” I’m sure I’ll be adding tot hat lachrymose accumulation.

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