September 18, 2014

The Mint Theater, which has a near-perfect track record of exhuming forgotten plays of the previous century that deserve a happier fate, has gone back to the well with George Kelly, the once-famous author of “The Show-Off,” whose “Philip Goes Forth” the Mint produced to brilliant effect last season. This time around it’s “The Fatal Weakness,” an identically impressive play by Mr. Kelly that opened on Broadway in 1946, ran for three months and thereafter went unseen until now.

No doubt the ambiguity of “The Fatal Weakness” explains its initial lack of success. It’s a smart, polished not-quite-comedy about the high price of adultery whose upper-crust characters are unlikable and whose moral—if you care to call it that—is uncomfortable. Though no one mentions World War II, not even in passing, Mr. Kelly was surely out to show how it triggered a convulsion in American mores, which gives the laughter an astringent sting: “I think you’ve been married long enough to realize that the majority of women only stay married as long as they’re willing to let their husbands think they agree with them.” As usual at the Mint, the acting and staging are smoothly impeccable (with Cynthia Darlow making the biggest splash as a relentlessly gossipy busybody), and Vicki R. Davis’s sitting-room set looks like the kind of thing you’d see on Broadway if Broadway still did plays like this.

A footnote for readers who live in the New York area: The Mint’s revival of John Van Druten’s “London Wall,” which I praised lavishly in this space in February, will be telecast by Channel 13 at 9 p.m. on Oct. 2. If you didn’t catch it then, do so now.