“Full of grace and compassion,” praised USA Today. “Spellbinding & exquisitely emotional,” gushed Entertainment Weekly. “Likely to be a force in Tony races this season,” predicted the New York Times.
So on what Broadway production were those publications heaping such plaudits? “The Testament of Mary,” which opened this week on the so-called “Great White Way.”
Here’s what you would never know from reading the reviews appearing in the mainstream media: The one-woman play is one of the most patently offensive takes on the mother of Christ since Chris Ofili’s 1996 painting, titled “The Holy Virgin Mary,” in which the artist smeared elephant dung over his depiction of a black Madonna.
“The Testament of Mary” stars Fiona Shaw, the Irish actress best know for her cinematic role as Harry Potter’s aunt Petunia. The play is directed by British director Deborah Warner, who has a long-term collaborative relationship with Shaw, and is based on the 2012 book by Irish novelist Colm Toibin.
Now here’s the back story (which somehow didn’t make it into the reviews published by USA Today, EW or the Times):
Actress Shaw is a lesbian. She had a relationship with actress Saffron Burrows, who played Shaw’s lover in the British production of “The PowerBook,” a play based on the novel of the same name by Jeanette Winterson, the lesbian partner of director Warner.
Oh, what an incestuous web they weave.
Then there’s Toibin. He is a homosexual and has written about gay sex in several of his novels. He is, perhaps, most notorious for his public defense of fellow Irish writer Desmond Hogan, who in 2008 confessed to a charge aggravated sexual assault against an underage boy.
During Hogan’s trial, Toibin asked the court to be lenient with the pedophile because he is “a writer of immense power and importance.”
These are the un-worthies – Shaw, Warner and Toibin – that have brought “The Testament of Mary” to the Broadway stage. And their depravity, their decidedly un-Christian worldview is on full display.
Indeed, Shaw’s Mary bears no resemblance to the blessed virgin who appears in Gospel accounts. The actress’ bizarro Mary converses with the audience while dragging on a cigarette and sipping on a bottle of hooch.
She confides that Her son, Jesus, is not the savior He’s made out to be. She hints that His conception was not as immaculate as advertised. She dismisses as some sort of joke all “the high-flown talk” about miracles her son supposedly performed. She considers His disciples “a group of misfits.”
Shaw concludes her portrayal of Mary, the mother of Christ, by stripping off her clothes and standing nude – that’s right – before her audience. That just might earn the actress the Tony Award the Times predicted.