Mary Page Marlowe Review – Tracy Letts Triumphs Again

The opening of a new play by Tracy Letts is always a moment of heightened interest for my husband and me.  Ever since we sat spellbound watching August: Osage County, we look forward to works in which Letts is involved.  It was with great anticipation that we headed to Steppenwolf Theatre to see Mary Page Marlowe, the newest work written by Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright and ensemble member Tracy Letts. Additionally, Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro, who directed Letts’s internationally, acclaimed August: Osage County, is working with him again for this intimate and moving production as part of Steppenwolf’s 40th anniversary season.



Madleine Weinstein (Wendy Gilbert), Jack Edwards (Louis Gilbert) and Rebecca Spence (Mary Page Marlowe)


Mary Page Marlowe is an accountant from Ohio. In vignettes, set out of chronological order, her story is revealed with each tidbit revealing and intriguing.  What happened to?  And then we learn bit by bit how the pieces fit together. The seamless presentation of 21 actors and countless scene changes was remarkable.  There was an operatic quality to the magnitude of feelings reached in this story. A portrait of a surprisingly complicated woman emerges that is intimate and moving – like a patchwork quilt. 


Caroline Heffernan (Mary Page Marlowe) and Amanda Drinkall (Roberta Marlowe)



Laura T. Fisher (Mary Page Marlowe) and ensemble member Ian Barford (Ray)


The story is complex and powerful, and it is the language, humor and pacing that sustained attention. Each actor was superb.  Staging was remarkable.  Costumes and lighting were consistent with the action and enhanced the feeling of being dropped into the middle of one important moment after the next in Mary’s life.  Given the era when this takes place and the cultural framework in which her story plays out, there is a parallel to the changes in the role of women during these years.


Tess Frazer (Lorna), Annie Munch (Mary Page Marlowe) and Ariana Venturi (Connie)



Carrie Coon (Mary Page Marlowe) and Gary Wilmes (Dan)


Featuring an 18-member cast, six different actors portray Mary Page Marlowe over the span of her lifetime. The six actors sharing the title role are: Blair Brown (Mary at ages 59, 63 and 69); Carrie Coon (Mary at ages 27 and 36); Laura T. Fisher (Mary at age 50); Caroline Heffernan (Mary at age 12); Annie Munch (Mary at age 19); and Rebecca Spence (Mary at ages 40 and 44). Completing the cast are ensemble members Ian Barford (Ray) and Alan Wilder (Andy) with Stephen Cefalu, Jr. (Ed Marlowe), Amanda Drinkall (Roberta Marlowe), Jack Edwards (Louis Gilbert), Kirsten Fitzgerald (Shrink), Tess Frazer (Lorna), Keith Gallagher (Ben), Sandra Marquez (Nurse), Ariana Venturi (Connie), Madeline Weinstein (Wendy Gilbert) and Gary Wilmes (Dan).



Carrie Coon (Mary Page Marlowe)

The production team includes Todd Rosenthal (scenic design), Linda Roethke (costume design), Marcus Doshi (lighting design), Richard Woodbury (sound design), Diana Lawrence (original music), and Sven Ortel (projection design). Additional credits include Jessamyn Fuller (casting), Malcolm Ewen (stage manager) and Brian Maschka (assistant stage manager). 


This production is highly recommended.


Single tickets to Mary Page Marlowe are available through Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St), 312-335-1650 and Steppenwolf website : Previews: $20 – $54 and Regular Run: $20 – $89. Prices are subject to change. Pit Seats: Audiences can experience a truly up-close and intimate theater experience with the newly added “pit seats” at a discounted $30 ticket price, available by phone only. Located directly in front of the stage, pit seating will be hard shell chairs that are 9-inches lower than Steppenwolf’s “Row A,” where Steppenwolf’s standard theater seating begins. 20 for $20: twenty $20 tickets are available through Audience Services beginning at 11am on the day of each performance (1pm for Sunday performances). Rush Tickets: half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show. Student Discounts: a limited number of $15 student tickets are available online. Limit 2 tickets per student; must present a valid student ID for each ticket. For additional Steppenwolf student discounts, visit Steppenwolf student discounts

 Group Tickets: all groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance throughout the season. For additional information, visit Steppenwolf groups


 For Steppenwolf subscription packages and flexible pass options available, call 312-335-1650.


Accessible performances includean American Sign Language interpretation on Sunday, May 8 at 7:30pm, Open Captioning on Saturday, May 7 at 3pm, Audio Description (no touch tour) on Sunday, May 22 at 3pm, and a touch tour on Sunday, May 29 at 1:30pm with an audio-described performance at 3pm.


Full performance schedule included at end of the release. Curtain Times: Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30pm; Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3pm; Wednesday matinees at 2pm on May 11, May 18, May 25. There will be no 3pm or 7:30pm performances on Saturday, May 14 and no Sunday 7:30pm performance on Sunday, May 29.


Lead support for Mary Page Marlowe is provided by The Roy Cockrum Foundation. Major support for Mary Page Marlowe is provided by Allstate Insurance Company, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, ComEd, National Endowment for the Arts, Northern Trust and PwC.


Major support for Steppenwolf’s New Play Development Initiative is provided by The Davee Foundation and the Zell Family Foundation.


Mary Page Marlowe is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.




Added Mary Page Marlowe performances include:

Tuesday, May 31, 7:30pm
Wednesday, June 1, 7:30pm
Thursday, June 2, 7:30pm
Friday, June 3, 7:30pm
Saturday, June 4, 3pm and 7:30pm
Sunday, June 5, 3pm


Photos: Michael Brosilow






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