Mary Todd....A Woman Apart-LC

Mary Todd...A Woman Apart

Dr. Linda Cahir, Professor of English
Centenary College
Mar. 4, 2002

Message from Dr. Linda Cahir, Professor of English, Centenary College

Date: Mon., 04 Mar 2002 12:15:50 -0500

Over the weekend, I saw The Centenary stage production: Mary Todd...A Woman Apart. It is simply the best one-woman show that I have seen, and I have seen several. I would encourage all of you to attend.

The play, written by Carl Wallnau, is a glorious complex of construction as Mary's story, told in a non-linear manner of flashes that move forward and back in time, keeps us (the audience) moving through arcs upon arcs: arcs of experience, arcs of emotions, and arcs of meaning. While we learn a lot about the inner and outer life of Mrs. Lincoln, the play isn't just about Mary Todd. It's about Lincoln, himself; and, it's about family, personal and national--about enduring grief, about the toll the presidency takes on all our First Ladies, and about the virulent sea sharks (the Lincolns' political colleagues and the journalists) who attempt to feast on them. Like Mary, herself, the language of the play is substantial, lyrical, and witty.

Colleen Smith Wallnau is Mary Todd, a performance the sets before us with absolute aplomb the contradictions of Mary: her great strength and her great fragility, her substance and her shallowness, her intensities of love and her depths of ire, her penetrating lucidity and her dementia. Colleen seems to inhabit Mary's character--she understands it so fully. Her performance is one of insight, playfulness, and pathos; and, she sings in a voice that has all the beauty and sorrow of an angel with a nipped wing.

I loved this play and this performance; you would miss a good deal if you miss seeing it.