Conflict is a love story set against the backdrop of a hotly contested election. Miles Malleson combines his two great passions: sex and politics. The result is a provocative romance that sizzles with both wit and ideas.

It’s the Roaring 20’s, London. Lady Dare Bellingdon has everything she could want, yet she craves something more. Dare’s man, Sir Major Ronald Clive, is standing for Parliament with the backing of Dare’s father. Clive is a Conservative, of course, but he’s liberal enough to be sleeping with Dare, who’s daring enough to take a lover, but too restless to marry him. Clive’s opponent, Tom Smith is passionate about social justice and understands the joy of having something to believe in. Dare is “the woman between” two candidates who both want to make a better world—until politics become personal, and mudslinging threatens to soil them all.

“It is an immaculately well-made, comprehensively satisfying piece of theater, old-fashioned in style without feeling at all dated, and the Mint’s production, directed by Jenn Thompson and featuring an ensemble cast of supreme merit, is beyond praise. I’m not surprised—I’ve reviewed 13 Mint productions since 2005, each one a gem—but it’s still worth saying yet again that no New York-based theater company has a better batting average.”

The Wall Street Journal

The play premiered in London in 1925, where critics heaped it with praise: “A skillfully and strongly written piece”, the dialogue “is neat and spare, always natural and often witty;” while complimenting “the expert way in which it is put together.”

Conflict was adapted for the movies in 1931, under the title The Woman Between (changed to The Woman Decides when an American movie with same title also was released in 1931.) “There is so much cleverness in this picture that it makes me wish all the more that British produces would avoid such unnecessarily “sexy” subjects,” lamented Picturegoer Weekly.

As a playwright, screenwriter, director, producer, and character actor, Miles Malleson  (1888-1969) established himself as a theatre artist of dazzling versatility. Yet while Malleson “acted the fool most memorably” in dozens of plays and films, he was also a playwright of provocative wit, searching insight and, as described by The Manchester Guardian, a sense of “ethical passion” drawing upon a lifelong engagement in progressive politics.

Born on May 25, 1888 in South Croydon, Surrey, William Miles Malleson enjoyed an idyllic, middle-class childhood in Brighton. However, family holidays spent at his Uncle Philip’s “passionately puritanical” Great Tew vicarage fueled Malleson’s rebellion against Victorian values. In 1908, Malleson entered Emmanuel College at Cambridge, where he excelled in the Amateur Dramatic Club. A wildly successful practical joke—the impersonation of a conservative MP at Cambridge—set Malleson’s mind upon the professional stage. At Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s Academy, Malleson gained acting experience and wrote short plays. He soon eloped with the brilliant Lady Constance Annesley, an actress, writer, and rebel daughter of an Irish earl.

During the World War I years, Malleson blended political activism with his rising career in the theatre. Both Miles and Constance moved among bohemian circles, joining movements in socialism, women’s suffrage, and causes of free love. They also became involved with the pacifist No-Conscription Fellowship, following Malleson’s military service. Invalided from the army in January 1915, after serving briefly in Malta with the City of London Fusiliers, Malleson confronted the horror of a “world gone mad” in his one-act plays, ‘D’ Company and Black ‘ell. In October of 1916, the British government seized copies of both plays from the publisher and denounced them as “a deliberate calumny on the British solider.”

Throughout the 1920s, Malleson led parallel lives as a classical actor and modern playwright. His political comedies, including Conflict (1925) and The Fanatics (1927), balanced the playwright’s commitment to social reform with sparkling dialogue and nuanced craftsmanship. Of Four People (1928), The Guardian praised “the play of a mind which is at war with usage and with institutions…and which can accept no sanctity of a social routine unless it justifies itself in human values.” At the same time, Malleson’s renown as “the best Shakespearean clown in the contemporary English theatre” (as described by St. John Ervine) led to roles in over a hundred films (including Kind Hearts and Coronets), as well as a distinguished career as a screenwriter. Also famous for his prose adaptations of Molière, Malleson died at the age of eighty on March 15, 1969.

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Cast

Jeremy Beck
Henry Clarke
Graeme Malcolm
James Prendergast
Jessie Shelton
Jasmin Walker
Amelia White

 

Creatives

Sets: John McDermott
Costumes: Martha Hally
Lights: Mary Louise Geiger
Sound: Toby Algya
Props: Chris Fields
Dialects & Dramaturgy: Amy Stoller
Casting: Stephanie Klapper, CSA
Production Stage Manager: Kelly Burns
Stage Manager: Jeff Meyers
Illustration: Stefano Imbert
Graphics: Hey Jude Design, Inc.
Press: David Gersten & Associates

CONFLICT IN CONTEXT
Susan Pedersen, Columbia University

Saturday, June 2, after the Matinee

Professor Pedersen will discuss politics in England in the early 1920’s, helping to put Malleson’s play into a historical context. She is the Gouverneur Morris Professor of History at Columbia and specializes in British history, the British empire, comparative European history, and international history. In 2014, Pedersen founded a graduate training collaboration in Twentieth-Century British history with Guy Ortolano of NYU and Peter Mandler of Cambridge University. PhD students working in this field participate in regular dissertation workshops and book discussions across all three institutions.

Celia Marshik, Stonybrook University

Saturday June 9, after the Matinee

Celia Marshik is Chair of the Department of English at Stonybrook. She is the author of “British Modernism and Censorship” (Cambridge University Press) and editor of “The Cambridge Companion to Modernist Culture”. Her teaching focuses on British modernism, the relationship between modernism and the middlebrow, and the literature and culture of World War I.

MY FATHER: MILES MALLESON
Andrew Malleson

Sunday, June 10, Brunch at Chez Josephine 12:00.

Attend the matinee that day, or any other performance (separate purchase required). Brunch Price: $40: Call 212-315-9434 for your ticket!

Andrew Malleson, born 1931, is the son of Miles Malleson and his second wife, Joan Billson. Andrew will share stories of his childhood, talk about his father and share what it was like for him to see Conflict, as well as Yours Unfaithfully in 2017.

“It’s Rather a Way of Looking at Things:”
The Political Vision of Miles Malleson
Maya Cantu, Bennington College

Saturday, June 16, after the Matinee

Maya Cantu is Dramaturgical Advisor to Mint Theater Company. She received a D.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale School of Drama. Her book American Cinderellas on the Broadway Stage: Imagining the Working Girl from “Irene” to “Gypsy” is now available through Palgrave Macmillan. Maya will discuss the life, work and politics of Miles Malleson.

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