Filichia on Friday

February’s Leftovers and March’s Brainteaser

February 26, 2016

There’s a major rediscovery at the Mint Theater Company and what else is new? Once again, for the umpteenth time, Jonathan Bank has unearthed a marvelous play that once again exhibits his exquisite taste.

However, this one – Hazel Ellis’ WOMEN WITHOUT MEN – had to be harder to find, because it never received a Broadway production. There’s still time for it to travel from the Mint’s interim home at City Center to a few blocks down the street.

WOMEN WITHOUT MEN asks the question that was posed in a 1968 musical whose title I’d give you if I weren’t too lazy to sprinkle 10 asterisks among 11 letters: “And how are things in the teachers’ room tonight?”

Here in Ireland in 1937, not good at all. What’s more, things will get progressively worse through six scenes. Eventually you’ll wince whenever the door is opened, for you fear who’ll enter the room; almost every one of the female teachers has an vicious enemy inside.

Twenty-year teaching vet Miss Connor (the perfectly pent-up Kelly Overbey) detests newcomer Miss Wade (the stalwart Emily Walton), and goes out of her way to stop Wade’s drama club production from proceeding. Yeah, even in 1937 Ireland, people in schools wanted to stop the arts from flourishing. (And we thought this only started recently in America.)

Yes, the teacher who’s the nicest is the one that must be destroyed and gets little to no benefit of the doubt from the other rats in the Skinner Box. Matters became so tense that the theatergoers whispered between scenes as if they were attending a thriller. In fact, they were, thanks to Jenn Thompson’s superb production and of course Ellis’ script.

What a shame, though, about that title. The implication is that if these women HAD men, they’d be happier and perhaps not-at-all nasty. Yes, when the show moves to Broadway, let’s rename it.