Marie and daughter Rose Marie are left adrift after their husband/father, Michael, passes away. But it's how he leaves that alters the lives of the family forever.

Arnie, Michael's boyfriend, yearns to heal those who've been hurt and unexpectedly discovers a family of his own.

Mirroring the erratic path of grief itself, A Complicated Hope flashes between the moments in time that changed them all. Their journeys explore the challenges of both finding a family of choice and letting yourself be found.
Marie - Female, 40s/50s, Black
Rose Marie - Female, Early 20s, Black
Arnie - Male, 40s/50s, white
(Northern Michigan University, MI -2021
“What if the person who understands your grief the most is somebody you don't even want to be in the same room with? John tackles this question with moving humor and truth. Just lovely.”
(Donna Hoke)
“This is a moving play about grief, loss, and forgiveness. It’s efficiently and beautifully written, with richly drawn characters and an intricate, non-linear structure that could easily have become clumsy without Mabey’s light touch and careful plotting.”
(David Beardsley)
“A Complicated Hope is a delightful exploration of characters facing a complicated situation and dealing with the loss of a mutual loved one. The characters are well thought out and delicately developed by John Mabey. While the subject matter could have been heavy handed, the playwright brings a sensitive touch to a difficult situation. A wonderful play!”
(Karen Ruetz)
“Just finished reading this wonderful play and it's taking me a moment to organize my thoughts on it. It is truly a beautiful play. So rich in thought, in character. Complicated issues dealt in complicated ways yet with such simplicity, so direct. The final two scenes, in particular, quite simply sing. The back and forth in time works beautifully and the three characters are deep and rich and would be a welcome surprise for the actors fortunate enough to play them. Overall, just a wonderful play by John Mabey.”
(Selma Hazouri)
“A beautifully rendered play about grief, loss, love and family told with tenderness, poignancy and authenticity. It deals with the messy bits of being human creating three memorable characters that you're happy to have spent time with. Highly recommended.”
(Colette Cullen)
“A beautifully structured, spare composition on grief and love that feels raw and authentic and sweet. The audience makes specific connections through the play through Mabey's use of language and objects as touch points to solder together specific moments through time so that they resonate all the more poignantly. There is room here for the audience. It's a very generous gift.”
(Emma Goldman-Sherman)
“A Complicated Hope is instantly gut wrenching. A grieving woman, Marie, is confined to a private room in a funeral home with her deceased ex-husband's partner, Arnie - a brilliantly tense and delicate scene which kicks off a series of powerfully evocative memory vignettes. Mabey's ability to authentically capture the intimate and intricate nature of human relationships is absolutely stunning. This play is a thoughtfully crafted story of three people flung together by a man who lost a lifelong struggle with himself. I should also note that Mabey's masterful writing really catches fire in scene eight. Sublime. Highly recommend!”
(Craig Houk)
“A tenderly-written and well-observed play that examines the human irregularities of grief, loneliness, family, and longing for connection. Mabey uses the scattered chronology well--the shifts in time give us interesting reveals and ramp up the tension, even though the story isn't technically moving forward. The three central characters are all nuanced and sympathetic, and the unconventional relationships between them feel plausible and driven by potent needs for one another. The eye towards their intersectional identities is astute. The final scene is a beautiful, poignant punctuation mark on the play.”
(Nick Malakhow)
“Brought together by the death of a loved-one, the lives of three unique yet relatable characters become unexpectedly and inextricably intertwined. Mabey’s exploration of lost love and found family unfolds in a nonlinear fashion, raising questions and providing answers in surprising and satisfying ways. From the provocative opening scene to the poetic final moment, A Complicated Hope offers characters and revelations that are both perfectly natural and poignantly unpredictable.”
(Ken Preuss)
Northern Michigan University, MI - 2021
Northern Michigan University, MI - 2022
[clockwise top left] Kimberly Ridgeway, Amarae Robinson, Adam Maslak
[clockwise top left] Kimberly Ridgeway, Amarae Robinson, Adam Maslak
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