Kate Rolling (Sara Haider) owns a successful dressmaker establishment. Staff consists of fickle friend Maisie Glow (Olivia Gilliat) with whom she compares the number of proposals each received that week, observant seamstress Miss Blagg (Gina Daniels), and young, naïve Gladys Tracey (Madeline Seidman). Kate is ambitious. She never takes a vacation or a day off. Influential clients are top priority. It’s 1917.
When the space next door becomes available, Kate dreams of expansion, but doesn’t have the resources. It’s rumored that George Pillatt (Gene Gillette), who owns a men’s haberdashery equal in reputation to hers, is eyeing the location. Recognizing a fellow A-type, George proposes a partnership with Kate – business, and for convenience sake, marriage. He’ll pay for renovations and move his emporium. Without a second thought, she jumps at the “opportunity.” A contract is drawn up.
Olivia Gilliatt (Maisie), Tom Patterson (Mr. Elliman), Joshua Echebiri (Fawcett), Sara Haider (Kate)
Keeping company with George is an odd duck friend named Lawrence Fawcett (Joshua Echebiri). How these two disparate people know one another and why they spend time together is a puzzle. Fawcett has exited his lucrative corset manufacturing concern with ideas about the dye business. He prioritizes interesting work over remuneration. At the moment, as it’s May, a walking tour takes precedence.
When the ladies first meet Fawcett, he awkwardly shies away. The extreme extent of his reserve (it’s played as that and not otherwise occupied thoughts) is never explained. (I’d be curious to know whether the original script described him this way.) Kate is unaccountably drawn to him and engineers time alone. Fawcett doesn’t know about her agreement with George, while George is unaware of their meetings. Kate begins to change. You can see where this is going.
Madeline Seidman (Gladys Tracey); Gina Daniels (Miss Bragg)
Pleasures in this mostly telegraphed, overlong play are fashion/society gossip and Kate’s dizzy blooming.
Sara Haider’s Kate doesn’t seem credible until the character’s in love. Use of wide eyes is that of a silent film. Bubbling over and absent minded, she achieves the tone of the piece.
Gene Gillette’s Pillatt is believably smooth, brittle and driven. The few double takes and pauses are deft. Bearing is appropriate.
Olivia Gilliatt’s Maisie embodies the feel of this early piece from first entrance. There’s thinking behind her apparently chirpy personality.
Joshua Echebiri’s Fawcett is a sweet dreamer. A tad more substance would suggest he ran a good business.
Also featured are Christiane Noll as the obviously patrician Lady Smith-Carr-Smith, Madeline Seidman portraying an utterly sympathetic Gladys Tracey, and Tom Patterson as Ms. Tracey’s fiancé, Jack Weber (excellent), as well as one of Maisie’s beaus, Mr. Elliman.
Like other presentations in the Elizabeth Baker series, Partnership shows the burgeoning progressive attitude of women.
Director Jackson Grace Gay manages to move her players effectively despite an unusually shallow staging area. When George hands Kate a flower, she has only a second’s delight before he breaks the stem, handing it back to her, and puts it in his buttonhole. Moments like this stand out.
The dressmaker shop by Set Designer Alexander Woodward is spot on, but a countryside with painted backdrop and boulders that look inflated appears to be from another play entirely.
Costumes by Kindall Almond are well detailed and period perfect.
Photos by Todd Cerveris
Opening: Gene Gillette (Pillat), Sara Haider (Kate), Joshua Echebiri (Fawcett)
Mint Theater Company presents
Partnership by Elizabeth Baker
Directed by Jackson Grace Gay
Through November 12, 2023
410 West 42nd Street