2022 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Mary’ by Jo Williamson

The story of a woman who considers herself an atheist and who is courted by two men who expect her to convert to their religion.

Here is the thing about solo shows: they are incredibly hard to pull off. It requires a lot of charisma to keep an audience’s attention focused on you — and only you — for the duration.

If Jo Williamson had been telling me her story over drinks at a bar, I would have been all in. But told from the stage, it lacked both the zestful performance and the compelling narrative arc to keep me invested.

Williamson’s one-woman personal narrative, titled Mary, was a mildly interesting story of a woman who considers herself an atheist. She develops relationships with two different men who wanted to marry her, each with the caveat that she embrace their religion, one a Christian and one a Muslim. Each time, Mary took the proposal seriously and did a deep dive into both the Bible and the Koran before making her decision.

The story is well-told for the most part but it lacked any punch at the end. Was there a moral? A lesson? A great realization? If there was, I missed it. Probably because Williamson’s telling of the story had a somewhat soporific effect on me as it neared its conclusion. Williamson could remedy this by cranking up the drama in her storytelling. In particular, she missed many chances to bring to life the various side characters she portrayed in the course of her story.

The show was punctuated by audio excerpts of several people discussing the role of religion in their lives and how their dedication to their faith forced them to make a major life decision. While these audio clips and Williamson’s monologue both focused on religion, I was unclear what the connection was and what I was supposed to take away from the audio clips.

A more animated performance and a clearer message at the end would do wonders for this show in future iterations.


Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.

Mary plays two more times — July 23, 2022, at 9:15 PM and July 24 at 6:00 PM — at W. WASHINGTON – Formerly Forever 21 Georgetown, 3222 M Street NW, Washington, DC. To see the performance schedule and purchase tickets ($15), go online.

COVID Safety: The audience is to remain masked for the show. The mask needs to cover your mouth and nose the whole time. Proof of vaccination and ID are checked before entry.

Genre: Drama
Age appropriateness: Appropriate for adults and children age 13+

2022 Capital Fringe Preview: ‘Mary’ by Jo Williamson


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