‘Mary Jane,’ ‘Hangmen’ Take New York Drama Critics’ Circle Honors

The Amy Herzog drama, which starred Carrie Coon, was named best American play, while Martin McDonagh’s latest won for best foreign play.

Amy Herzog’s intimate drama Mary Jane, which starred Carrie Coon as a single mother stoically caring for her chronically ill child, has been chosen as best new American play of the 2017-18 theater season by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle.

In the group’s 83rd annual voting meeting, a separate award for best foreign play went to Hangmen, Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy about man’s instinct for violence, set in the waning days of capital punishment in 1960s Britain.

Given that the season’s most critically lauded musical hit, The Band’s Visit, was honored by the NYDCC last year following its off-Broadway premiere, the Tony frontrunner was ineligible for consideration in its Broadway transfer. With only a smattering of support for other new productions, it was decided that no musical prize would be awarded this year.

Special citations went to another Tony frontrunner, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, for its staging, design and illusions; to the Park Avenue Armory for its adventurous theater programming, which this season included Billie Piper in a bold reimagining of Lorca’s Yerma and Paris-based collective Theatre du Soleil’s sweeping epic, A Room in India; and to the inventive off-Broadway company Transport Group, which specializes in revivals of underproduced American drama.

Mary Jane was produced by New York Theatre Workshop last September under Anne Kauffman’s direction. In addition to Coon in a performance generally hailed as one of the season’s best, the production also featured Liza Colon-Zayas, Danaya Esperanza, Susan Pourfar and Brenda Wehle.

Hangmen played an extended run at the Atlantic Theater Company that opened in February, coinciding with Oscar attention to McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Directed by Matthew Dunster, the production’s ensemble cast included Mark Addy, Johnny Flynn, Reece Shearsmith, Gaby French, Sally Rogers and Maxwell Caulfield. Rumors circulated at the time that a quick transfer to Broadway was in the works before the end of the season, but the unavailability of a key castmember put those plans on hold.

The NYDCC comprises 19 theater critics from daily newspapers, magazines and websites based in the New York metropolitan area. The group’s annual honors are the second-oldest theater awards in the country, after the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. This year’s NYDCC Awards will be presented May 10 at a private cocktail reception.

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