Is it really cheating if your spouse approves your infidelity?
Exploring the conventions of marriage and the humbug of monogamy, Miles Malleson wrote and published Yours Unfaithfully in 1933. Mint Theater Company is giving this charming and disarming comedy/drama a premiere showing through February 18th, under the direction of Jonathon Bank. For this discovery, we owe them a great thanks.
Stephen Meredith (Max von Essen) is blissfully enjoying his wife’s beneficence. Anne (Elisabeth Gray) has given her blessing for him to “get into some mischief” with Diana Streathfield (Mikaela Izquierdo) in the hope that an affair would rejuvenate Stephen and end his writer’s block.
Neither she nor Stephen imagine any other consequence. They are acting on their convictions that a strong marriage can withstand other and lesser alliances, just as Stephen’s father, the Rev. Meredith (Stephen Schnetzer) acts on his principles when he is shocked to learn of Stephen and Diana’s dalliance. Anne’s confidant and the Merediths’ friend, Dr. Alan Kirby (Todd Cerveris) preaches the counterbalance of the head to the heart.
The brilliantly deft production of Yours Unfaithfully is a welcome addition to the Mint archive. As is customary in a Mint production, sets and costumes have a panache as well. The scenic (by Carolyn Mraz) and costume (by Hunter Kaczorowski) design are admirable. The top-notch ensemble brings Malleson’s smart vision to life with an easy flair. It’s a tribute to all involved that one can’t peg Yours Unfaithfully as drama, or drawing-room comedy; it transcends labels and stands on its own.
For more information and tickets, please visit the Mint website.
The New Morality, extended to October 25th with a closing night party Mint-ophiles will want to attend. The BIG news, the Mint is moving from its current digs at 311 W 43 St to an as yet unknown destination.
Changing social mores are often cause for consternation. A breach in decorum could lead to upheaval. In the 1920’s, this new liberalism was widely labelled a new morality. Harold Chapin had a lot to do with the coining of the phrase that was associated with liberalism and different social norms. Chapin, a popular playwright and a war hero who met his untimely death on the battlefield in 1915, left behind a comedy, The New Morality, that was first produced posthumously in 1921 to great acclaim.
The breach in The New Morality, at the Mint through October 18th, seems very slight, yet it unleashes a very funny and poignant play.
The Mint Theater Company launchesThe New Morality in order to commemmorate the centenary and honor the memory of a very fine playwright.
Chapin’s comedy of ill-manners invokes a Shavian heroine ala Man and Superman. In The New Morality, Betty Jones (the superb Brenda Meaney) makes a scene heard up and down river from the deck of her neighbor’s houseboat. Her outrage is over the dance Muriel Wister (an off-stage presence) has led her husband, Col Ivor Jones (Michael Frederic).
Betty will eventually be championed by an unexpected and unlikely source. In the meantime, she has the support of her faithful and mild-mannered friend, Alice Meynell (Clemmie Evans.) Mueriel’s husband, Teddy (Ned Noyes) has the unhappy task of demanding an apology on his wife’s behalf.
Watching Noyes’ Teddy spontaneously combust while “in his cups” is one of the many pleasures The New Morality affords.
Is Betty’s moral indignation –and subsequent inflexibility– a new standard for right and wrong?The sense that women act, feel, react, think and see differently from men is a commonplace of psychology. In our modern parlance, human beings are divided as Martians and Venusians, and this observance underlies much of the story of The New Morality. Vive la différence!
The acting, with Jonathan Bank’s tender mercies as director, is perfect. The ensemble are all excellent and accomplished, including Kelly McCready as the maid, Lesceline, and Douglas Rees as a dedicated manservant, Wooten.
Brenda Meaney’s Betty stands out in the cast, displaying a willfulness that is as charming as it is exasperating.
Ferenc Molnár was a sophisticated Budapest-raised playwright who enjoyed international renown from the start of his career in the 19aughts through the 1920s and ’30s.
The Mint Theater Company, which has made it its mission to revive and remount plays that are no longer part of the standard canon, presents Ferenc Molnár’s Fashions for Men through March 29th. Benjamin Glazer’s original translation has been tweaked in this production; Mint Artisitc Director, Jonathan Bank says he made adjustments for the sake of modernity and to dispense with Glazer’s “Britishisms.” Bank’s collaborators in translating the Molnár text are the playwright’s great grandson, Gábor Lukin and Agnes Niemitz of the Hungarian Translation Services.
The production, like so many of the Mint offerings, is sumptuous and extremely well-acted. In fact, when we say that the Mint has outdone itself in creating the sets, courtesy of Daniel Zimmerman, and costumes, by Martha Hally, you should know that it was an astonishingly high bar they had to surpass.
The story centers on the fate of the haberdashery owned by Peter Juhász (Joe Delafield.) He is a man of boundless goodness and generosity, and therefore often abused by friends, customers and patrons. His wife, Adele (Annie Purcell) betrays him with his best salesman, Oscar (John Tufts.) Her duplicity nearly bankrupts him, and the Count (Kurt Rhoads) rescues him from an abysmal situation, only to throw him into an even more untenable one. The pure of heart see no evil, and Juhász labors faithfully, infatuated with his former shopgirl, Paula (Rachel Napoleon.) Complications abound in this simple and cosmopolitan tale.
The acting is faultless and charming. Kurt Rhoads is a personal favorite, but Rachel Napoleon and Joe Delafield are marvellous as well, as is John Tufts whose swarmy self-interest is delicious. Everyone from Philip (Jeremy Lawrence), the gossipy shop assistant to Mate (Michael Schantz) the ne’er do well on the Count’s estate is credible and completely convincing in their roles. The smaller parts are also splendidly inhabited.
Davis McCallum directs with an artfulness and at a pace that is perfectly suited to the material. In the course of three acts we are transported to Budapest at the turn of the last century, where we feel completely at home.