Posted in Davis McCallum, I Remember Mama, John Van Druten, Jonathan Hogan, Laurie Kennedy, London Wall, Old Acquaintance, Stephen Plunkett, The Mint Theatre

A Day At The Office in "London Wall"

Miss Pat Milligan (Elise Kibler) and Mr. Brewer (Stephen Plunkett)
in a scene from John Van Druten’s “London Wall,”
in a Mint Theatre production through March 30th.
Photo © Richard Termine.

“‘Work’s work,'” Mr. Walker of Messers Walker, Windemere & Co. of London Wall, quotes his father as saying. “‘but with women about it never can be.'”

John Van Druten studied, practiced and even taught law, while enjoying a great success as a playwright, and later screen writer. In “London Wall,” The Mint Theatre is reviving one of his earlier gems.

“London Wall,” playing through March 30th, is a naturalistic work, focusing on the economic exigencies of young working women in a busy law practice. “London Wall” sets off to a lethargic start, like Miss Bufton (Katie Gibson) after her lunch break–“I don’t really like being taken out like that in the middle of the day. I’m no good at all for work in the afternoon. I shall probably fall fast asleep over my machine.”–but picks up apace and never lets us nap once it does.

Miss Pat Milligan (Elise Kibler) with Miss Hooper (Alex Trow), Miss Bufton (Katie Gibson, seated) and Birkenshaw (Matthew Gumley) in a scene from “London Wall” at The Mint through March 30th.  Photo © Richard Termine.

The other typists in the office have less active social lives than Miss Bufton’s. Miss Hooper (Alex Trow) is expecting her boyfriend to a get a divorce from his wife. Miss Janus (Julia Coffey) has spent seven years in courtship with a man in diplomatic service whom she too hopes to marry.

Mr. Brewer (Stephen Plunkett) oversees the office, flirting with all the typing pool, but with an eye to woo young Pat Milligan (Elise Kibler.) Their boss, Mr. Walker (Jonathan Hogan) warns Brewer off, finding his behavior towards the women in the office appalling.

Miss Blanche Janus (Julia Coffey) and Mr. Eric Brewer
(Stephen Plunkett)  in “London Wall”
at the Mint through March 30th. Photo © Richard Termine.

With the smirk of a cad, Brewer is outgunned by Miss Janus, who knows a thing or two about affairs of the heart. Blanche Janus is protective of Pat, and dislikes Brewer who is slimy and insinuating.  Her interest in Pat and her beau, Hec Hammond (Christopher Sears) is in part nostalgic.

Mr. Walker (Jonathan Hogan) with Pat (Elise Kibler) in
“London Wall” at the Mint. Photo © Richard Termine.
The play depicts office life in all its regular mundanity. The firm of Messers Walker, Windemere & Co. is hectic with the comings and goings of workers and clients. Hec is a visitor from a firm downstairs, frequently borrowing a reference book from the general office, as an excuse to see Pat.  Miss Willesden (Laurie Kennedy) is an eccentric but well-heeled client whom Mr. Walker will no longer see, but whose wills and legal actions are part of the firm’s business. Mr. Brewer attends to her whenever she appears unexpectedly at the offices.

Brewer (Stephen Plunkett) with Miss Willesden
(Laurie Kennedy) in “London Wall.”
Photo © Richard Termine.

“I know office work’s no fun. I don’t always enjoy it myself. There are lots of things I’d rather be doing, and thinking about, but they can’t intrude here,” Mr. Walker says. The office in “London Wall” is a great deal of fun, however.

The prolific Davis Mccallum directs this superbly well-coordinated ensemble. Resident dramaturg Amy Stoller contributes to the little realisms of this excellent and engrossing production.

The elaborate sets by Marion Williams engulf the theater space in the office, further emmersing us in the daily life at the law firm in London Wall.

Among this outstanding cast, the benevolent Mr. Walker is admirably brought to life by Jonathan Hogan; the dishonorable Brewer is divinely portrayed by Stephen Plunkett; and Miss Pat Milligan as embodied by the newcomer, Elise Kibler, is an intelligent go-getting young woman. Rounding out the cast is the cheeky officeboy, Birkenshaw (Matthew Gumley.)  In this group of players, no one should be left off this long list of bests, but we will add one more standout in Julia Coffey who gives Miss Janus a keen and warm understanding.

For more about “London Wall,” please visit The Mint Theatre.


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