Under Stephen Kaliski’s direction, this one-woman show provides a thorough picture of what the police force was like back in the 1930’s and what was expected from the officers. Rachel McPhee plays Mary Shanley, known as Dead Shot Mary in the press, and delivers a captivating and heartfelt performance. She is candid and comical in her accounts of life as an undercover cop, having to dress in the latest fashions and camouflage her greatest accessory – her gun – in her purse when she was on assignment. Required to use her wit, intelligence, and resilience while on the job, Shanley made over 1,000 arrests in her 30-year career, a staggering record.
While proud of how she is portrayed in the press, as a woman who couldn’t be broken, McPhee delves beneath the surface to illustrate how Shanley really felt once she returned to an empty apartment at the end of the day — with her beloved dog as her only real company. Like everyone else, she experiences confusion, loneliness, and pain and only can hope that her good choices and desire to help mankind outweigh the mistakes that she has made.
The costume design by Peri Grabin Leong brings the respected and polished fashions of the 1930’s to life with proper hats, floor-length skirts, and embroidered dresses. McPhee is dressed very smartly – representative of a different time where folks took pride in getting all dolled up for outings that ranged from attending church services to window-shopping. The fashions absolutely succeed at evoking nostalgia. The unit setting is by Kyu Shin, with lighting by Haejin Han.
While our modern society is often plagued by turbulence, Dead Shot Mary, provides a beacon of hope and represents an authentic and hard-working woman who not only cared about doing a good job but making a difference in the world. This play is an important reminder of the complexities of human nature and accepting the challenge to examine one’s character in a deeper way. At the end of our lives, that’s all we have – along with the stories that we’ve created along the way.
Dead Shot Mary (through October 15, 2016)
Bridge Theatre at Shetler Studios, 244 W. 54th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-868-4444 or visit http://www.smarttix.com
Running time: 60 minutes without intermission