The esteemed Mint Theater reintroduces vintage plays by established authors, those barely known outside theatrical circles, and those in public awareness for other achievements. Doggedness and perspicacity offer curiosities and gems to which audiences wouldn’t otherwise be exposed. The Suitcase Under the Bed, four short plays literally discovered under the playwright’s bed by her sister, is the fourth in The Mint’s Teresa Deevy (1894-1963) series. Only one has been previously produced.
Strange Birth, the most successful of the four, is a delicate play about the vicissitudes of love. We appear to be at a boarding house. Mrs. Taylor (Cynthia Mace) is thrilled to discover a long absent son will imminently return giving her new lease on life. Cantankerous, dried-up Mrs. Stims (Gina Costigan) wonders why she’s universally unliked. Young Mr. Bassett (A.J. Shively) is pining for word from “his” girl. Good natured housekeeper Sara Meade (Ellen Adair), at 32 has given up on love, but Mailman Bill (Aiden Redmond) has her in his appreciative sights. Mail is involved all round with one letter in particular signifying. Little happens, yet the piece sweetly resonates.
A.J. Shively, Colin Ryan, Sarah Nicole Deaver
In the Cellar of My Friend revolves around young Belle (Sarah Nicole Deaver) who arrives at neighbor Thomas Keane’s house (Colin Ryan) bubbling over with the secret she’s affianced to his son, Barney (A.J. Shivley). Apparently neither Tom’s sister, Patricia (Cynthia Mace), nor Tom himself has been told. In fact, the older Keane is poised to propose to Belle while his son packs to leave forever. Awkward silences pervade until the reason is revealed. Barney’s behavior is not credible making the piece lurch. Also featuring Aiden Redmond as Martin, the gardener.
Colin Ryan, Gina Costigan, Ellen Adair, Sarah Nicole Diver, Aidan Redmond
Holiday House is a genteel drawing room attempt that telegraphs future events early on. Overanxious Hetty (Sarah Nicole Deaver) and her patrician mother/The Mater (Cynthia Mace) have taken a house by the sea for the month of August. Invited to stay are Hetty’s insouciant brother Derek (Colin Ryan), his wary, pragmatic wife Jil (Gina Costigan), and his still enamored ex-fiance Doris (Ellen Adair) now married to Derek’s brother Neil (Aidan Redmond). The piece seems like Act I of an unfinished play. Also featuring A.J. Shively as neighbor Charlie Moore.
Sarah Nicole Diver and Aidan Redmond
The King of Spain’s Daughter concerns promiscuous Annie Kinsella (Ellen Adair) who dreams big of a better life while juggling three boys-two ne’er-do-wells and sweet, reliable Jim Harris (A.J. Shively) who wants to marry her. Annie’s loose behavior is frowned upon by her laborer father, Peter (Aidan Redmond). Having reached a boiling point, he threatens to contract her to a factory for five years unless she settles down. Also featuring Cynthia Mace as neighbor, Mrs. Marks, and Colin Ryan as one of Annie’s boyfriends, Roddy Mann.
Two well performed Entr’acte poems are recited in front of the curtain.
Ellen Adair is self conscious in Strange Birth, but solid in Holiday House. Sarah Nicole Costigan broadly overacts in Holiday House, but comes into her own with The King of Spain’s Daughter. Aidan Redmond breathes vibrant life into every character he inhabits – an actor to be followed.
The evening is disappointing. Ms. Deevy had a reason to store these under her bed. Director and The Mint’s Producing Artistic Director Jonathan Bank has given us far better.
Vicki R. Davis’ Sets are undetailed, washed out, and appear cheap. (A mesh, metal cloud is simply awful.) This is an anomaly for The Mint.
Andrea Varga’s Costumes are well imagined, but wigs are terrible. Sound Design by Jane Shaw is evocatively right.
Photos by Richard Termine
Opening: Aiden Redmond, and Ellen Adair
The Mint Theater C0mpany presents
The Suitcase Under the Bed by Teresa Deevy
Directed by Jonathan Bank
Through September 23, 2017
Theatre Row, The Beckett Theatre
410 West 42nd Street