The Treasurer, by Max Posner, at Playwrights Horizons, is a provocative, worthwhile study of a middle-aged man with two brothers (offstage except for their voices) who becomes the designated primary guardian of his mother’s affairs. At first, this involves simply, or not so simply, keeping track of her finances. But as she becomes alarmingly reckless with money, it becomes clearer that she is slipping into dementia. The more stringent the restrictions the son has to impose, the more abstracted his mother becomes, the more he realizes that he has lost any profound feeling for her, as if the mourning process happened with the death of her aware, functional personality, such that waiting for her actual demise is something of a sentence for him, wherein her death could only be received as a long-coming reward for services rendered.
Also worthwhile, exploring related themes from much the other side of the spectrum, is Mary Jane by Amy Herzog at the New York Theatre Workshop, which is an episodic portrait of the title character: a young, single, working mother (Carrie Coon) with the activity at the center of her life being the care of a chronically sick (always offstage) child—and while never losing her devotion or affection, becoming increasingly overwhelmed by it, as we see in the progress of her interactions with a helpful friend, a hired aide and hospital personnel, among others (played variously by Liza Colón-Zayas, Danaya Esperanza, Susan Pourfar and Brenda Wehle). Under the unobtrusive, naturalistic direction of Anne Kauffman, Mary Jane is a subtle, stage vérité portrait without answers; only empathy. Which is, here, appropriate and sufficient.
Finally, at the Public theater, there’s the return engagement of Tiny Beautiful Things. It’s a play to the extent that there is a subtextual thread upon which is hung the dramatic order of elements. But really, it’s the kind of the evening I think of as a themed, spoken word revue. (Another would be Spoon River Anthology.)