Cover photo by Joan Marcus

Crazy Mary

A R Gurney
Book Item Icon $15.95
PDF ePlay Item Icon
Enter total users


In an attempt to account for the family inheritance, the scion of a wealthy Buffalo, New York clan and her willful, college-aged son visit their long-lost cousin Mary. The catch: Mary is living in an asylum for the wealthy insane and has barely spoken in years, forcing mother and son to employ radical ends to get through.

Production Info

Cast: 5 total (3 female, 2 male, Multiethnic Cast)
Full Length Drama (about 100 minutes)
Single Set
Contemporary Costumes

Press Quotes

“Comparisons between playwrights and novelists are almost always misleading, but I’d say it’s more or less accurate to think of A R Gurney as the John P Marquand of American drama. Like Marquand, Mr Gurney writes about WASPs and their discontents, and his ruefully funny studies of a ruling class in decline are too often dismissed as trivial by critics who take no interest in the inner lives of the insufficiently underprivileged. Also, like Marquand, he is prolific to a fault, and his work is as unevenly inspired as it is unfailingly professional. I’ve reviewed several of his plays in this space, always with pleasure — I like his best work very much — but rarely with outright enthusiasm. Thus, I’m glad to report that CRAZY MARY, Mr Gurney’s new portrait of life among the white-bread set, is a highly impressive piece of work, a serious comedy that succeeds in wringing honest laughs out of an awkward subject. The Mary in question is a middle-aged manic depressive who has spent the past three decades stashed away in a high-priced sanitarium to which her late father consigned her after she made the fatal mistake of sleeping with the gardener. in addition to being crazy, Mary is loaded — she inherited all her father’s money — and when Lydia, Mary’s second cousin once removed, becomes her legal guardian after a death in the family … well, you figure it out, if you can. Every twist in the plot of CRAZY MARY took me by surprise, and none of them disappointed me in the slightest. What impressed me the most about CRAZY MARY is that Mr Gurney walks with unerring skill along the knife edge that separates comedy from pathos. In truth, there is nothing remotely funny about Mary’s situation, much less her condition, and we laugh at her plight precisely because it is so pitiful. Nor does Mr Gurney let any of his characters off the hook, least of all Lydia, who has spent her own life walking on tiptoe through a world of tight-lipped propriety in which the most important things are left unsaid …” Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal “… Aside from the tireless (and seemingly immortal) Horton Foote, no eminent American playwright of the last few decades rivals the staying power and productivity of Mr Gurney. Though he would seem to be limited by sticking to one area of expertise — the malaise and mores of the endangered East Coast WASP — Mr Gurney’s theatrical output is surprisingly varied. If his essential subject has largely remained the same, he keeps shifting his focus and perspective in admirably venturesome ways, most recently with his fiercely partisan, Bush-baiting political comedies … As a story of ethnic dinosaurs stranded by history, CRAZY MARY brings to mind vintage Gurney works like THE COCKTAIL HOUR and THE MIDDLE AGES … His earlier plays had the passive wistfulness of Henry James portraits of unlived lives; CRAZY MARY has the active morality of E M Forster novels, demanding that its characters get off their isolated duffs and connect with the world beyond. The spirit in CRAZY MARY is honorably willing …” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times

About the Author


  • A R Gurney

    A R ("Pete") Gurney's work has been produced in New York at Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theater Club, Playwrights Horizons, and Primary Stages. Among his plays are THE DINING ROOM, THE COCKTAIL HOUR, LOVE LETTERS, SYLVIA, FAR EAST, THE FOURTH WALL, and BIG BILL. Four of his more political plays — O JERUSALEM, MRS FARNSWORTH, SCREEN PLAY, and POST MORTEM — have been produced at the Flea Theater in Tribeca. Gurney also wrote several published novels, as well as the libretto for Michael Torke's opera Strawberry Fields, presented by the New York City Opera. A former Professor of Literature at M I T, he was elected in 2005 to the Theater Hall of Fame and in 2006 to The American Academy of Arts and Letters. He passed away in June 2017. Audio Interview [audioplayer file="//" titles="Leonard Lopate Interviews A R Gurney" artists="" bg="434343"]

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 7/1/2007
Pages 80
ISBN 9780881453485

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Originally produced by Playwrights Horizons, New York

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
Crazy Mary is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC